Activity-based anorexia is associated with reduced hippocampal cell proliferation in adolescent female rats

Nicole C. Barbarich-Marsteller, Casimir A. Fornal, Luiz F. Takase, Miriam E. Bocarsly, Candice Arner, B. Timothy Walsh, Bartley G. Hoebel, Barry L. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Activity-based anorexia (ABA) is an animal model of anorexia nervosa that mimics core features of the clinical psychiatric disorder, including severe food restriction, weight loss, and hyperactivity. The ABA model is currently being used to study starvation-induced changes in the brain. Here, we examined hippocampal cell proliferation in animals with ABA (or the appropriate control conditions). Adolescent female Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to 4 groups: control (24. h/day food access), food-restricted (1. h/day food access), exercise (24. h/day food and wheel access), and ABA (1. h/day food access, 24. h/day wheel access). After 3 days of ABA, 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU; 200. mg/kg, i.p.) was injected and the rats were perfused 2 h later. Brains were removed and subsequently processed for BrdU and Ki67 immunohistochemistry. The acute induction of ABA reduced cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus. This effect was significant in the hilus region of the dentate gyrus, but not in the subgranular zone, where adult neurogenesis occurs. Marked decreases in cell proliferation were also observed in the surrounding dorsal hippocampus and in the corpus callosum. These results indicate a primary effect on gliogenesis rather than neurogenesis following 3 days of ABA. For each brain region studied (except SGZ), there was a strong positive correlation between the level of cell proliferation and body weight/food intake. Future studies should examine whether these changes are maintained following long-term weight restoration and whether alterations in neurogenesis occur following longer exposures to ABA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Activity-based anorexia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • BrdU
  • Cell proliferation
  • Food restriction
  • Hyperactivity
  • Ki67
  • Rat
  • Self-starvation


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