Recent research suggests that estrogen is protective against binge eating in adult females and that pubertal estrogen may be critical for these effects. Nonetheless, to date, no study has examined the role of pubertal estrogen in adult binge-eating phenotypes in females, potentially because of difficulties experimentally manipulating estrogen in humans to examine causal effects. We used a novel animal model to examine whether estrogen removal before puberty (via prepubertal ovariectomy, or P-OVX) increased rates of binge-eating-prone (BEP) phenotypes in adulthood in female rats. Seventy-seven P-OVX rats and 79 intact rats were followed from prepuberty into adulthood and phenotyped for BEP status in adulthood. Results showed significantly increased rates (~2–8 times higher) of adult BEP phenotypes in P-OVX compared with intact rats. Findings confirm that estrogen removal substantially increases later risk for binge eating in females, potentially by disrupting typical adolescent brain development.
- binge eating