A new study says that women afflicted with eating disorders because of anorexia or obesity have low levels of a metabolic product responsible for mood maladies. Called allopregnanolone, (allo for short) allo is a metabolite of the two major female hormones, progesterone (the other being estrogen).
The metabolite, which binds with receptors for a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain are targeted by currently used anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines. Allo has a key role to play in producing a positive mood and feelings of well-being.
More than 50 per cent of anorexic women suffer from depression or anxiety. This figure for obese women is 43 per cent. Low allo levels have been implicated in cases of depression and anxiety by several previous studies but there has been none so far focused specifically on obese or anorexic women.
“We are beginning to see more and more evidence that low allo levels are tightly linked to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mood disorders,” said Graziano Pinna, associate professor of psychiatry in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and an author on the paper. “To see that women with anorexia nervosa and obesity have low levels adds to the picture that the role of allo is under-recognized in mood disorders.”
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