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Psychopharmacological advances in eating disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
JournalExpert review of clinical pharmacology
Issue number1
Early online date5 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


King's Authors


INTRODUCTION: Anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) are the primary eating disorders (EDs). The only psychopharmacological treatment options for EDs with approval in some countries include fluoxetine for BN and lisdexamfetamine for BED. Given the high comorbidity and genetic correlations with other psychiatric disorders, it seems possible that novel medications for these conditions might also be effective in EDs. Areas covered: The current scientific literature has increased our understanding of how medication could be beneficial for patients with EDs on a molecular, functional and behavioral level. On the basis of theoretical considerations about neurotransmitters, hormones and neural circuits, possible drug targets for the treatment of EDs may include signal molecules and receptors of the self-regulatory system such as serotonin, norepinephrine and glutamate, the hedonic system including opioids, cannabinoids and dopamine and the hypothalamic homeostatic system including histamine, ghrelin, leptin, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide-1. Expert commentary: The latest research points to an involvement of both the immune and the metabolic systems in the pathophysiology of EDs and highlights the importance of the microbiome. Therefore, the next few years may unveil drug targets for EDs not just inside and outside of the brain, but possibly even outside of the human body.

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