Affordable Access

Access to the full text

Deep Brain Stimulation of the Nucleus Accumbens in Severe Enduring Anorexia Nervosa: A Pilot Study

  • Scaife, Jessica C.1, 2, 3
  • Eraifej, John3, 4
  • Green, Alexander L.3, 4, 5
  • Petric, Beth4
  • Aziz, Tipu Z.3, 4, 5
  • Park, Rebecca J.1, 2
  • 1 Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford , (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford , (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, University of Oxford, Oxford , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford , (United Kingdom)
  • 5 Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford , (United Kingdom)
Published Article
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Apr 27, 2022
DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2022.842184
  • Neuroscience
  • Original Research


Introduction Anorexia nervosa (AN) is one of the most debilitating psychiatric disorders, becoming severe and enduring in a third of cases; with few effective treatments. Deep brain stimulation is a reversible, adjustable neurosurgical procedure that has been gaining ground in psychiatry as a treatment for depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder, yet few studies have investigated AN. Abnormal eating behavior and the compulsive pursuit of thinness in AN is, in part, a consequence of dysfunction in reward circuitry and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) is central to reward processing. Methods Phase 1 prospective open-label pilot study of seven individuals with severe enduring AN. Electrodes were implanted bilaterally into the NAcc with stimulation at the anterior limb of the internal capsule using rechargeable implantable pulse generators. The protocol of 15 months included 12 months of deep brain stimulation incorporating two consecutive, randomized blind on-off fortnights 9 months after stimulation onset. The primary objectives were to investigate safety and feasibility, together with changes in eating disorder psychopathology. Results Feasibility and safety was demonstrated with no serious adverse events due to deep brain stimulation. Three patients responded to treatment [defined as > 35% reduction in Eating Disorders Examination (EDE) score at 12 months] and four patients were non-responders. Responders had a statistically significant mean reduction in EDE scores (50.3% reduction; 95% CI 2.6–98.2%), Clinical Impairment Assessment (45.6% reduction; 95% CI 7.4–83.7%). Responders also had a statistically significant mean reduction in Hamilton Depression Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Scale and Snaith-Hamilton pleasure scale. There were no statistically significant changes in Body Mass Index, Yale-Brown-Cornell Eating Disorder Scale, Yale-Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale and World Health Organization Quality of Life Psychological subscale. Conclusion This study provides some preliminary indication that deep brain stimulation to the NAcc. Might potentially improve some key features of enduring AN. In this small study, the three responders had comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder which predated AN diagnosis. Future studies should aim to further elucidate predictors of outcome. Clinical Trial Registration [], identifier [Project ID 128658].

Report this publication


Seen <100 times