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Am J Pharmacogenomics. 2004;4(4):209-23.

Genetic risk factors in eating disorders.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Clinical Research Group, Philipps-University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.


Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa involve complex and interacting mechanisms. Formal genetic studies suggest that there is a substantial genetic influence for these disorders. Animal models of eating disorders are scarce. Candidate gene studies have initially focused on the serotonergic and other central neurotransmitter systems and on genes involved in body weight regulation. Most of the studies, including meta-analysis, have yielded negative results; only a single positive finding has been replicated independently. Recently, systematic genome-wide scans based on families with two or more individuals with an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa) revealed initial linkage regions on chromosomes 1, 3, and 4 (anorexia nervosa) and 10p (bulimia nervosa). Fine mapping of one of these regions led to the identification of genes where an association with anorexia nervosa was detected. Currently treatment of patients with eating disorders can not rely on results of molecular genetic studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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