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Appetitive behavior, compulsivity, and neurochemistry in Prader-Willi syndrome.

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John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.


Advances in genetic research have led to an increased understanding of genotype-phenotype relationships. Excessive eating and weight gain characteristic of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have been the understandable focus of much of the research. The intense preoccupation with food, lack of satiation, and incessant food seeking are among the most striking features of PWS. It has become increasingly clear that the behavioral phenotype of PWS also includes symptoms similar to obsessive compulsive disorder, which in all probability interact with the incessant hunger and lack of satiation to engender the intense preoccupation and food seeking behavior that is characteristic of this disorder. Several lines of evidence suggest that genetic material on chromosome 15 may alter synthesis, release, metabolism, binding, intrinsic activity, or reuptake of specific neurotransmitters, or alter the receptor numbers and/or distribution involved in modulating feeding. Among the likely candidates are GABAnergic, serotonergic, and neuropeptidergic mechanisms. This review summarizes what is known about the appetitive behavior and compulsivity in PWS and discusses the possible mechanisms underlying these behaviors. MRDD Research Reviews 2000;6:125-130.

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