Research highlight

Genetic insight into anorexia nervosa

Nature Genetics

July 16, 2019

Eight significant genetic markers for anorexia nervosa are identified in an analysis of almost 17,000 cases in a paper published this week in Nature Genetics. The study represents the largest known genome-wide association study on anorexia nervosa to date.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex and serious illness with a higher mortality rate than other psychiatric disorders.

Cynthia Bulik and colleagues analysed the genomes of 16,992 anorexia nervosa patients and 55,525 controls from data collected by the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative and the Eating Disorders Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. The authors identified eight genetic markers associated with anorexia nervosa and were able to perform a more accurate analysis of the genetic architecture of the disorder. They found that anorexia nervosa has genetic correlations with certain psychiatric disorders - such as obsessive compulsive disorder and major depressive disorder - as well as physical activity and metabolic traits.

The authors conclude that these findings provide further evidence that anorexia nervosa is a metabo-psychiatric disease, and that attention to both aspects may guide more effective treatments in the future.

doi: 10.1038/s41588-019-0439-2

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