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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Phobic memory and somatic vulnerabilities in anorexia nervosa: a necessary unity?

Michael Myslobodsky

Author Affiliations

Howard University and Cerebral Brain Disorder Branch, NIMH, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-1379, USA

Annals of General Psychiatry 2005, 4:15  doi:10.1186/1744-859X-4-15

Published: 6 September 2005


Anorexia nervosa is a clinically significant illness that may be associated with permanent medical complications involving almost every organ system. The paper raises a question whether some of them are associated with premorbid vulnerability such as subcellular ion channel abnormalities ('channelopathy') that determines the clinical expression of the bodily response to self-imposed malnutrition. Aberrant channels emerge as a tempting, if rather speculative alternative to the notion of cognitively-driven neurotransmitter modulation deficit in anorexia nervosa. The concept of channelopathies is in keeping with some characteristics of anorexia nervosa, such as a genetically-based predisposition to hypophagia, early onset, cardiac abnormalities, an appetite-enhancing efficacy of some antiepileptic drugs, and others. The purpose of this article is to stimulate further basic research of ion channel biophysics in relation to restrictive anorexia.