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PLoS One. 2014 Feb 11;9(2):e88673. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088673. eCollection 2014.

Differential methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene in patients with anorexia nervosa: a pilot study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Inje University, Seoul Paik Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2
Indang Institute of Molecular Biology, Inje University, Seoul, Republic of Korea ; School of Biological Sciences, Inje University, Gimhae, Republic of Korea.
3
Indang Institute of Molecular Biology, Inje University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
4
Section of Eating Disorders, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIM:

Recent studies in patients with anorexia nervosa suggest that oxytocin may be involved in the pathophysiology of anorexia nervosa. We examined whether there was evidence of variation in methylation status of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene in patients with anorexia nervosa that might account for these findings.

METHODS:

We analyzed the methylation status of the CpG sites in a region from the exon 1 to the MT2 regions of the OXTR gene in buccal cells from 15 patients and 36 healthy women using bisulfite sequencing. We further examined whether methylation status was associated with markers of illness severity or form.

RESULTS:

We identified six CpG sites with significant differences in average methylation levels between the patient and control groups. Among the six differentially methylated CpG sites, five showed higher than average methylation levels in patients than those in the control group (64.9-88.8% vs. 6.6-45.0%). The methylation levels of these five CpG sites were negatively associated with body mass index (BMI). BMI, eating disorders psychopathology, and anxiety were identified in a regression analysis as factors affecting the methylation levels of these CpG sites with more variation accounted for by BMI.

CONCLUSIONS:

Epigenetic misregulation of the OXTR gene may be implicated in anorexia nervosa, which may either be a mechanism linking environmental adversity to risk or may be a secondary consequence of the illness.

PMID:
24523928
PMCID:
PMC3921190
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0088673
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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