Relationship Between Dysregulation of Oxytocin and Deficits in Social Emotional Functioning in Active and Partially Recovered Anorexia Nervosa
MetadataShow full item record
CitationSchmelkin, Cindy. 2017. Relationship Between Dysregulation of Oxytocin and Deficits in Social Emotional Functioning in Active and Partially Recovered Anorexia Nervosa. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Medical School.
AbstractObjective: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is associated with social-emotional functioning deficits; however, whether these deficits are secondary to low weight is unclear. Further, the roles of disease severity and abnormal secretion of the social neurohormone oxytocin in social-emotional functioning impairment have not been fully elucidated.
Method: We performed a cross-sectional study of 148 women ages 18-45 [46 AN, 48 AN in partial recovery (ANPR), and 54 healthy controls (HC)] between December 2008 and March 2014. We administered the Eating Disorder Examination – Questionnaire (EDE-Q), Leibowitz Social Adjustment Scale – Self Report (LSAS-SR), Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology – Basic Questionnaire (DAPP-BQ) (suspiciousness and insecure attachment subscales), and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). In a subset of 79 subjects, we analyzed fasting oxytocin levels.
Results: Social fear, public fear, social avoidance, and difficulty describing feelings were increased in ANPR compared to HC (p≤0.034), but not to the extent of AN (p≤0.0498). Suspiciousness, insecure attachment, difficulty identifying feelings, and overall alexithymia score were also increased in ANPR (p≤0.043) at a level similar to AN. Public avoidance did not differ between ANPR and HC. Current body mass index (BMI), EDE-Q global score, and lowest adult BMI correlated with several measures of social-emotional functioning (p≤0.04). Oxytocin levels were low in ANPR compared to HC (p=0.0004) and negatively associated with difficulty identifying feelings (r=-0.45, p=0.007) and overall alexithymia score (r=-0.35, p=0.04).
Conclusion: We conclude that women with AN in partial recovery have persistently abnormal social-emotional functioning and speculate that oxytocin dysregulation and disease severity are contributors.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40621391