Childhood maltreatment is associated with cortical thinning in people with eating disorders

Giammarco Cascino, Antonietta Canna, Andrea Gerardo Russo, Francesco Monaco, Fabrizio Esposito, Francesco Di Salle, Palmiero Monteleone, Alessio Maria Monteleone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Childhood maltreatment (CM) is a non-specific risk factor for eating disorders (ED) and is associated with a greater severity in their clinical presentation and poorer treatment outcome. These data suggest that maltreated people with ED may be biologically other than clinically different from non-maltreated people. The aim of the present study was to investigate cortical thickness (CT), a possible biomarker of neurodevelopment, in people with ED with or without history of CM and in healthy women. Twenty-four healthy women, 26 with anorexia nervosa and 24 with bulimia nervosa underwent a 3T MRI scan. All participants filled in the childhood trauma questionnaire. All neuroimaging data were processed by FreeSurfer. Twenty-four participants with ED were identified as maltreated and 26 participants with ED as non-maltreated. All healthy women were non-maltreated. Compared to healthy women, maltreated people with ED showed lower CT in the left rostral anterior cingulate gyrus, while compared to people with ED without history of CM showed lower CT values in the left superior frontal and in right caudal middle frontal and superior parietal gyri. No significant differences emerged in CT measures between healthy women and people with ED without history of CM. The present findings show for the first time that in adult people with ED childhood maltreatment is associated with cortical thinning in areas implicated in the modulation of brain processes that are acknowledged to play a role in the psychopathology of ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-466
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Open access funding provided by Università degli Studi di Salerno within the CRUI-CARE Agreement. This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Cortical thickness
  • Eating disorders
  • Neurodevelopment

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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