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Aggressive Behavioral Characteristics and Endogenous Hormones in Women with Bulimia nervosa

Cotrufo P.a · Monteleone P.a · d’Istria M.b · Fuschino A.a · Serino I.b · Maj M.a
aInstitute of Psychiatry and bDepartment of Fisiologia Umana and Funzioni Biologiche Integrate ‘F. Bottazzi’, University of Naples SUN, Naples, Italy Neuropsychobiology 2000;42:58–61 (DOI:10.1159/000026673)


Increased aggressiveness frequently occurs in patients with bulimia nervosa (BN), but its neurobiological correlates have been poorly investigated. In this study, we investigated possible relationships between such clinical measure and blood levels of endogenous hormones in patients with BN. Morning plasma levels of testosterone, 17β-estradiol, prolactin (PRL) and cortisol were measured in 33 bulimic women and 22 healthy female controls. The eating-related psychopathology, depression and aggressiveness were rated by specific psychometric scales. Bulimic patients showed decreased plasma levels of PRL and 17β-estradiol, and increased concentrations of cortisol and testosterone. Moreover, patients scored higher than healthy controls on rating scales assessing eating-related psychopathology, depressive symptoms and aggressiveness. A significant positive correlation was found between testosterone plasma levels and aggressiveness in patients but not in controls. These findings suggest that in BN, increased plasma levels of testosterone may play a role in the modulation of aggressiveness.

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