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BACKGROUND: The pathogenesis of anorexia nervosa (AN) is controversial. METHOD: A retrospective case series was studied to investigate the post-viral onset of AN. RESULTS: Four consecutive in-patients with severe restrictive AN spontaneously volunteered histories of 'glandular fever'-like illnesses immediately before the onset of their eating disorder. This association has not previously been described. Possible pathogenic pathways include both non-specific and specific viral disruptions in central homeostasis, particularly involving corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) regulation. CONCLUSION: Such mechanisms are speculative, but biologically and historically plausible.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





386 - 389


Adult, Anorexia Nervosa, Body Weight, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Homeostasis, Humans, Infectious Mononucleosis, Neurocognitive Disorders, Stress, Psychological