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Adrenal and Gonadal Hormone Replacement in Anorexia Nervosa

Information source: Children's Hospital Boston
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Anorexia Nervosa

Intervention: Hormone replacement therapy (estrogen/progestin) (Drug); Placebo (Sugar Pill) (Other); Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) (Drug)

Phase: Phase 2/Phase 3

Status: Completed

Sponsored by: Children's Hospital Boston

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Catherine M. Gordon, MD, Principal Investigator, Affiliation: Children's Hospital Boston


This study seeks to gain new information on why young women with anorexia nervosa are predisposed to early bone loss and osteoporosis. Through a randomized treatment trial in which participants will receive either combined therapy with the adrenal hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and estrogen replacement therapy or placebo, we will determine the effects of an 18-month treatment course on bone mass, circulating markers of bone turnover, and serum levels of a factor, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I). We are also studying if these therapies change bone structure to increase skeletal strength compared to placebo, as assessed through cross-sectional geometric analysis of our bone density data by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

Clinical Details

Official title: Effects of Adrenal and Gonadal Hormone Replacement in Young Women With Anorexia Nervosa

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Treatment

Primary outcome: Areal Bone Density by DXA

Detailed description: Profound osteopenia is a frequent and often irreversible complication of anorexia nervosa (AN). Adolescents with AN often have a reduced peak bone mass and are at increased risk for early osteoporosis and fractures. These young women have subnormal serum levels of gonadal steroids and the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that may be associated with their low bone mineral density (BMD). Low DHEA levels are accompanied by decreased levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), estrogen, and testosterone. Previous data from our group indicate that oral DHEA therapy in young women with AN: increases lean body mass, serum levels of bone formation markers and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), and decreases urinary markers of bone resorption. We also found that standard hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) significantly decreased bone resorption markers. Information on the effects of these therapies on bone strength and ultimate fracture risk is lacking. In this project, we will test the hypothesis that combined therapy with DHEA and estrogen/progestin will enhance bone mass in patients with AN through anabolic and antiosteolytic mechanisms. We will test the hypothesis that 18 months of DHEA + HRT will increase bone mineral density (BMD) and markers of bone formation, while decreasing bone resorption markers in these patients. The proposed study will examine whether restoring normal levels of DHEA and estrogen in these young women will increase bone mass during a critical period for bone accretion. The study will also examine whether DHEA's anabolic effects on bone are mediated through the skeletal IGF-I regulatory system. Using cross-sectional analyses of dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) data, we will also measure indices of bone structural geometry to determine if mechanical strength is compromised in these young women, and if strength is restored in response to combined anabolic/antiresorptive therapy. To gain new information on the mechanisms underlying bone loss and fracture risk in young women with AN, our research goals are: Specific Aim I: Through a randomized controlled trial, to measure the effects of an 18-month course of DHEA + HRT on bone mass, markers of bone turnover, and serum levels of IGF-I compared to placebo. Specific Aim II: To determine whether combined therapy with adrenal and gonadal steroid replacement changes bone structure to increase strength compared to placebo, as assessed through cross-sectional geometric analysis of DXA data.


Minimum age: 15 Years. Maximum age: 30 Years. Gender(s): Female.


Inclusion Criteria:

- Age 15 - 30 years

- Anorexia nervosa by psychiatric criteria

- Amenorrhea for at least 3 months

Exclusion Criteria:

- Receiving no medications known to affects bone metabolism

- No other chronic medical conditions

Locations and Contacts

Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, United States
Additional Information

Starting date: April 2004
Last updated: December 27, 2012

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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