Low doses of a commonly used atypical antipsychotic drug improved survival in a mouse model of anorexia nervosa, University of Chicago researchers report this month. The result offers promise for a common and occasionally fatal eating disorder that currently lacks approved drugs for treatment.
Mice treated with small doses of the drug olanzapine were more likely to maintain their weight when given an exercise wheel and restricted food access, conditions that produce activity-based anorexia (ABA) in animals. The antidepressant fluoxetine, commonly prescribed off-label for anorexic patients, did not improve survival in the experiment.
"We found over and over again that olanzapine was effective in harsher conditions, less harsh conditions, adolescents, adults it consistently worked," said the paper's first author Stephanie Klenotich, graduate student in the Committee on Neurobiology at the University of Chicago Biological Sciences.
The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, was the product of a rare collaboration between laboratory scientists and clinicians seeking new treatment options for anorexia nervosa. As many as one percent of American women will suffer from anorexia nervosa during their lifetime, but only one-third of those people will receive treatment.
Patients with anorexia are often prescribed off-label use of drugs designed for other psychiatric conditions, but few studies have tested the drugs' effectiveness in animal models.
"Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly psychiatric disorder, and yet no approved pharmacological treatments exist," said Stephanie Dulawa, PhD, assistant professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago Medicine and senior author of the study. "One wonders why there isn't more basic science work being done to better understand the mechanisms and to identify novel pharmacological treatments."
One challenge is finding a medication that patie
|Contact: Robert Mitchum|
University of Chicago Medical Center