Neuroendocrinology of reward in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: Beyond leptin and ghrelin

Laura A. Berner*, Tiffany A. Brown, Jason M. Lavender, Emily Lopez, Christina E. Wierenga, Walter H. Kaye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are still poorly understood, but psychobiological models have proposed a key role for disturbances in the neuroendocrines that signal hunger and satiety and maintain energy homeostasis. Mounting evidence suggests that many neuroendocrines involved in the regulation of homeostasis and body weight also play integral roles in food reward valuation and learning via their interactions with the mesolimbic dopamine system. Neuroimaging data have associated altered brain reward responses in this system with the dietary restriction and binge eating and purging characteristic of AN and BN. Thus, neuroendocrine dysfunction may contribute to or perpetuate eating disorder symptoms via effects on reward circuitry. This narrative review focuses on reward-related neuroendocrines that are altered in eating disorder populations, including peptide YY, insulin, stress and gonadal hormones, and orexins. We provide an overview of the animal and human literature implicating these neuroendocrines in dopaminergic reward processes and discuss their potential relevance to eating disorder symptomatology and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110320
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Dopamine
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Reward


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