Anorexia Nervosa

Central diabetes insipidus associated with refeeding in anorexia nervosa: A case report

International Journal of Eating Disorders
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Anorexia nervosa (AN) has been associated with a multitude of hypothalamic pituitary abnormalities, although it is unknown which aberrations reflect disease causation and which are the consequences of severe malnutrition. Among these endocrinopathies, hypothalamic-posterior pituitary aberrations have been described, including disorders of osmoregulation. We report the case of an adolescent female with a history of severe AN, restricting subtype, treated aggressively with multiple hospitalizations. During hospitalization for severe weakness and lethargy, her course of medical stabilization was complicated by significant polyuria, ultimately diagnosed as central diabetes insipidus (DI). This is the first reported case, to our knowledge, of a severely malnourished adolescent with AN-restricting subtype developing central DI during the refeeding process for medical stabilization, thus adding to the small body of existing literature on disordered osmoregulation in this patient population. This case report raises the question as to whether the frequency of central DI during refeeding is greater than that previously recognized. Additional research should focus on how neuroendocrine dysregulation of water balance might impact the clinical course of AN and its treatment.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

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