Anorexia Nervosa (AN) affects 0.5-1% of college-aged women in the US and is characterized by extreme, self- induced starvation. Of the many medical co-morbidities associated with AN, severe bone loss is the most common and often persists despite weight recovery. This bone loss is significant because women with AN also have an increased fracture risk;a prospective study demonstrated that women with AN have a 7-fold increased risk of fractures as compared to age-matched controls. Therefore, a treatment to prevent the severe bone loss associated with AN is critical. There are currently no approved treatments for AN-associated bone loss. Therapies which prevent bone loss in normal-weight, hypogonadal women, such as estrogen, do not improve bone mineral density in women with AN. This is likely because the pathogenesis of bone loss due to nutritional deprivation differs from that of post-menopausal osteoporosis. In AN, there is a dramatic decrease in bone formation. Therefore an agent which stimulates bone formation would be an important potential treatment. Currently teriparatide (PTH) is the only anabolic agent approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoporosis. As the effects of PTH on bone are known to be mediated through IGF-I and IGF-I levels are low in states of nutritional deficiency, we propose to investigate the effects of PTH on bone mass in women with AN. We will randomize thirty women with AN to treatment with either PTH or placebo and follow them prospectively for 6 months. We will measure bone mineral density, parameters of bone microarchitecture and bone strength at baseline and at 6 months. We will also measure markers of bone formation and resorption, IGF-I and sclerostin levels at baseline and monthly during the course of the study. Dr. Fazeli is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Assistant in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She is on staff in the Neuroendocrine Unit at MGH and devotes the majority of her time to clinical research. Her expertise in studying hormonal abnormalities in AN positions her to lead the proposed project. She is well-supported by MGH and has full access to the Neuroendocrine Unit, Clinical Research Center and Harvard Catalyst CTSC resources. Her co-mentors, Drs. Anne Klibanski and Mary Bouxsein, are well-funded and invested in the direction of Dr. Fazeli's research. During the award period, Dr. Fazeli will obtain critical trainig in biostatistics and research design at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she is currently a Master of Public Health student, as well as important skills in novel investigational methods of determining bone strength. If awarded, this grant will support Dr. Fazeli's training in clinical research, with the ultimate goal of becoming an independent investigator with an expertise in combining neuroendocrinology and bone biology to better understand the pathophysiology of bone loss in disorders of under-nutrition.

Public Health Relevance

Anorexia nervosa, a disorder predominantly affecting women and characterized by extreme self-imposed weight loss, is associated with many medical complications including severe bone loss and an increased fracture risk. Therapies which prevent bone loss in post-menopausal women, such as estrogen, do not improve or stabilize bone mineral density in women with anorexia nervosa and there are currently no approved therapies for bone loss associated with anorexia nervosa. The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of teriparatide on bone density, bone microarchitecture and bone strength in this group of women and to better understand the pathophysiology of bone loss in anorexia nervosa.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases B Subcommittee (DDK)
Program Officer
Hyde, James F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Massachusetts General Hospital
United States
Zip Code
Fazeli, Pouneh K; Klibanski, Anne (2018) Effects of Anorexia Nervosa on Bone Metabolism. Endocr Rev 39:895-910
Orouji Jokar, Tahereh; Fourman, Lindsay T; Lee, Hang et al. (2018) Higher TSH Levels Within the Normal Range Are Associated With Unexplained Infertility. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 103:632-639
Schorr, Melanie; Thomas, Jennifer J; Eddy, Kamryn T et al. (2017) Bone density, body composition, and psychopathology of anorexia nervosa spectrum disorders in DSM-IV vs DSM-5. Int J Eat Disord 50:343-351
Fazeli, Pouneh K; Teoh, Jonathan G; Lam, Eleanor L et al. (2016) Effect of growth hormone treatment on diastolic function in patients who have developed growth hormone deficiency after definitive treatment of acromegaly. Growth Horm IGF Res 26:17-23
Fazeli, Pouneh K; Lun, Mingyue; Kim, Soo M et al. (2015) FGF21 and the late adaptive response to starvation in humans. J Clin Invest 125:4601-11
Fourman, Lindsay T; Fazeli, Pouneh K (2015) Neuroendocrine causes of amenorrhea--an update. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 100:812-24
Scheller, Erica L; Doucette, Casey R; Learman, Brian S et al. (2015) Region-specific variation in the properties of skeletal adipocytes reveals regulated and constitutive marrow adipose tissues. Nat Commun 6:7808
Fazeli, Pouneh K; Faje, Alexander T; Cross, Ela J et al. (2015) Serum FGF-21 levels are associated with worsened radial trabecular bone microarchitecture and decreased radial bone strength in women with anorexia nervosa. Bone 77:6-11
Fazeli, Pouneh K; Klibanski, Anne (2014) Anorexia nervosa and bone metabolism. Bone 66:39-45
Fazeli, Pouneh K; Klibanski, Anne (2014) Determinants of GH resistance in malnutrition. J Endocrinol 220:R57-65

Showing the most recent 10 out of 20 publications