Researchers find evidence of genetic susceptibility

PITTSBURGH, March 12 A multi-center, international collaborative team of researchers is the first to identify a region on chromosome 1 that may contain genes that make an individual vulnerable to developing anorexia nervosa (AN).

The findings add to a growing body of research supporting the belief that genetic transmission in addition to psychosocial factors contributes to a persons vulnerability to develop AN.

The study, in the March issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, is the first genome-wide linkage analysis of eating disorders and uses an affected relative pair research method that looks for genes that run in families where two or more people have a disorder. Results from a linkage study provide stronger evidence of a genetic basis for an illness than those from population-based association studies, where people with a disorder are compared with samples from the general population.

By using a sample of participants from families where at least two relatives had restricting anorexia nervosa (RAN), a clinically defined subtype of AN, researchers identified a possible AN-susceptibility locus on chromosome 1p. Additional regions on chromosomes 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 16 and 22 also gave genetic linkage signals, though not as statistically strong, indicating there may be several susceptibility genes that underlie the genetic basis for AN.

The scientific literature has long supported the role of genetics in the etiology of anorexia nervosa. This is the first genetic linkage study to detect specific susceptibility loci for anorexia nervosa and we are excited about the possibility of identifying the particular gene(s) that underlie this linkage signal, said Dorothy Grice, M.D., the study's first author. Dr. Grice is an assistant professor and child psychiatrist at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

It may be that a number of genes

Contact: Craig Dunhoff
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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