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Report from SNM: PET measures brain chemistry associated with bulimia

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - PET has linked the behavioral treatment of bulimia nervosa with biochemical activity in areas of the brain associated with addiction and substance abuse, according to a study presented Sunday at the 2005 Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Toronto.

Carbon-11 carfentanil PET imaging identified reduced µ-opioid receptor binding in the prefrontal cortex and insula of patients who responded positively to a 10-week course of cognitive behavior treatment, said Dr. Badreddine Bencherif, a nuclear medicine researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The typical pattern of binge eating and purging persisted among patients when µ-opioid receptor binding was reduced in the cingulate cortex.

The results suggested to principal investigator Dr. Angela S. Guarda, director of the eating disorders program at Hopkins, that the involvement of the opioid system may explain the addictive quality of the eating disorder.

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