October 1997

Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa With Ondansetron

Author Affiliations

University of Minnesota Medical School—Minneapolis 420 Delaware St SE Minneapolis, MN 55455

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(10):969-970. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830220099014

Bulimia nervosa, a chronic psychiatric disorder, is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by purging (usually in the form of self-induced vomiting) with a loss of volitional control over these behaviors. This disorder occurs in 3% to 5% of young women.1 Our research group has previously suggested that the pathophysiological characteristics driving the abnormal behaviors involve an increase in the basal tone of the vagus nerve as a result of repeated and aggressive stimulation of the gastric branch of the vagus nerve by binge eating and vomiting.2 This hypothesis led us to treat a total of 5 women who met the DSM-III-R criteria for bulimia nervosa (binge-purge subtype) with ondansetron hydrochloride (a 5-hydroxytryptamine type 3 receptor antagonist that pharmacologically decreases vagal transmission3). All of these patients were considered to have severe bulimia nervosa due to the chronicity of the disease, a history of previous drug

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