Telltale Genes Linked to Eating Disorders

While eating disorders are relatively common, especially among younger women, information has been lacking about how these disorders occur or what triggers them. However, researchers, led by Michael Lutter, MD, PhD, of the University of Iowa, now have identified two gene mutations that appear to be associated with an increased risk of developing an eating disorder.

Key to developing the research was the participation of eating disorders facilities such as Fargo, North Dakota-based Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, which has provided long-term support in the form of critical and anonymized information about people suffering from eating disorders.

“We have participated in the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium for several years,” says University of North Dakota physician and researcher James Mitchell, MD, who also heads the university’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences clinical neuroscience program. “That group is now pooling the DNA we collected with samples from other groups that have formed an international collaborative to increase power for genome-wide association studies.”

Mitchell says the recently published research about the genetic links in eating disorders is “exciting and promising. We’ve known eating disorders run in families, thus we knew about heritability long before we knew about genes.”

Now, he says, there’s a more scientifically accurate model that will assist clinicians and researchers in helping their patients with an eating disorder.

Source: University of North Dakota