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Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2011;6:209-27. doi: 10.1007/7854_2010_84.

Animal models of eating disorder traits.

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Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, are psychiatric disorders that are likely determined by a complex interaction between genetic variations, developmental processes, and certain life events. Cross-species analysis of traits related to eating disorders may provide a way to functionally and systematically study neurobiological mechanisms underlying these disorders. Interspecies trait genetics may offer opportunities to identify common neurobiological mechanisms underlying eating disorder characteristics relevant to the initiation, progression, and/or maintenance of the disease, such as cognitive rigidity, increased anxiety levels, and behavioral hyperactivity. These can subsequently be tested directly by studying allelic variation in mice and human subjects and by applying methods that can modify gene expression levels in rodent models. Increasing our knowledge about these traits and their underlying neurobiological mechanisms will be relevant to develop new therapies for patients within the heterogeneous eating disorder populations. Novel mouse genetic and phenotyping tools offer a way to study these neurobehavioral traits under controlled environmental and genetic background conditions.

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