Decreased platelet monoamine oxidase activity in female bulimia nervosa

José Luis Carrasco, Marina Díaz-Marsá, Eric Hollander, Jesús César, Jerónimo Saiz-Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The involvement of brain serotonin systems in the pathophysiology of eating disorders has been repeatedly demonstrated in recent studies. Platelet MAO activity is an index of brain serotonin activity and lowered platelet MAO levels have been found in association with impulsive behaviors. In addition, some preliminary reports indicate that platelet MAO could be lowered in eating disorder patients. Methods: 47 patients with DSM-IV eating disorders were studied, including 30 with bulimia nervosa and 17 with anorexia nervosa binge eating-purging type. Platelet MAO activity was measured by isotopic methods using C-14 benzylamine and compared with a control group of 30 healthy subjects. Impulsive personality features were studied with specific rating scales. Results: Platelet MAO activity was significantly lower (4.4±2.4 nmol/h/108 platelets) in the bulimic patients than in the control group (6.9±2.5) (p<0.001). No significant differences were found between pure bulimics and binge eating-purging anorectics. Platelet MAO was inversely and significantly correlated with scores on impulsivity scales and with borderline personality disorder characteristics. Conclusions: Platelet MAO activity is lowered in patients with bulimia, which may reflect dysfunction in impulse control mechanisms. Since platelet MAO has a predominant genetic component, there is need for studies on the association of low platelet MAO and higher risk for developing eating disorders. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-117
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality
  • Platelet monoamineoxidase (MAO)
  • Psychobiology
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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