Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2001 Jun;24(2):215-25.

The evolving genetic foundations of eating disorders.

Klump KL, Kaye WH, Strober M.

Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Data described earlier are clear in establishing a role for genes in the development of eating abnormalities. Estimates from the most rigorous studies suggest that more than 50% of the variance in eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors can be accounted for by genetic effects. These high estimates indicate a need for studies identifying the specific genes contributing to this large proportion of variance. Twin and family studies suggest that several heritable characteristics that are commonly comorbid with AN and BN may share genetic transmission with these disorders, including anxiety disorders or traits, body weight, and possibly major depression. Moreover, some developmental research suggests that the genes involved in ovarian hormones or the genes that these steroids affect also may be genetically linked to eating abnormalities. Molecular genetic research of these disorders is in its infant stages. However, promising areas for future research have already been identified (e.g., 5-HT2A receptor gene, UCP-2/UCP-3 gene, and estrogen receptor beta gene), and several large-scale linkage and association studies are underway. These studies likely will provide invaluable information regarding the appropriate phenotypes to be included in genetic studies and the genes with the most influence on the development of these disorders.

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