Anorexia nervosa (AN) is perhaps the most lethal mental disorder, in part due to starvation-related health problems, but especially because of high suicide rates. One potential reason for high suicide rates in AN may be that those affected face pain and provocation on many fronts, which may in turn reduce their fear of pain and thereby increase risk for death by suicide. The purpose of the following studies was to explore whether repetitive exposure to painful and destructive behaviors such as vomiting, laxative use, and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) was a mechanism that linked AN-binge-purging (ANBP) subtype, as opposed to AN-restricting subtype (ANR), to extreme suicidal behavior. Study 1 utilized a sample of 787 individuals diagnosed with one or the other subtype of AN, and structural equation modeling results supported provocative behaviors as a mechanism linking ANBP to suicidal behavior. A second, unexpected mechanism emerged linking ANR to suicidal behavior via restricting. Study 2, which used a sample of 249 AN patients, replicated these findings, including the second mechanism linking ANR to suicide attempts. Two potential routes to suicidal behavior in AN appear to have been identified: one route through repetitive experience with provocative behaviors for ANBP, and a second for exposure to pain through the starvation of restricting in ANR.
anorexia; suicide; restricting; purging; self-injury
One of the primary facets of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is behavioral dysregulation, a wide array of behaviors that are difficult to control and harmful to the individual. The purpose of this study was to explore the association between BPD and a variety of dysregulated behaviors, some of which have received little empirical attention. Using a large sample of individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, 41 individuals diagnosed with BPD were compared to the rest of the sample on the presence of dysregulated behaviors using logistic regression analyses. Anorexia nervosa subtypes, age, and other Cluster B personality disorders were used as covariates. Results support an association between BPD and alcohol misuse, hitting someone/breaking things, provoking fights/ arguments, self-injury, overdosing, street drug use, binge-eating, impulsive spending, shoplifting/stealing and risky sexual behaviors. Differences between dichotomous and continuous measures of BPD yielded somewhat different results.
borderline personality disorder; behavioral dysregulation; substance abuse; anorexia nervosa
We assessed the relation between season of birth and eating disorder symptoms and personality characteristics in a sample of 880 women with eating disorders and 580 controls from two Price Foundation Studies. Eating disorder symptoms were assessed using Structured Interview of Anorexic and Bulimic Disorders and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Personality traits were assessed using the Temperament and Character Inventory and the Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. Date of birth was obtained from a sociodemographic questionnaire.
No significant differences were observed 1) in season of birth across eating disorder subtypes and controls; nor 2) for any clinical or personality variables and season of birth. We found no evidence of season of birth variation in eating disorders symptoms or personality traits. Contributing to previous conflicting findings, the present results do not support a season of birth hypothesis for eating disorders.
anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; eating disorders; season of birth
Although low weight is a key factor contributing to the high mortality in anorexia nervosa (AN), it is unclear how AN patients sustain low weight compared with bulimia nervosa (BN) patients with similar psychopathology. Studies of genes involved in appetite and weight regulation in eating disorders have yielded variable findings in part due to small sample size and clinical heterogeneity. This study: (1) assessed the role of leptin, melanocortin, and neurotrophin genetic variants in conferring risk for AN and BN and (2) explored the involvement of these genes in body mass index (BMI) variations within AN and BN.
Our sample consisted of 745 individuals with AN without a history of BN, 245 with BN without a history of AN, and 321 controls. We genotyped 20 markers with known or putative function among genes selected from leptin, melanocortin, and neurotrophin systems.
There were no significant differences in allele frequencies among individuals with AN, BN, and controls. AGRP rs13338499 polymorphism was associated with lowest illness-related BMI in those with AN (p=0.0013), and NTRK2 rs1042571 was associated with highest BMI in those with BN (p=0.0018).
To our knowledge, this is the first study to address the issue of clinical heterogeneity in eating disorder genetics and to explore the role of known or putatively functional markers in genes regulating appetite and weight in individuals with AN and BN. If replicated, our results may serve as an important first step toward gaining a better understanding of weight regulation in eating disorders.
anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; candidate gene association; body weight; melanocortins; neurotrophins
Animal studies indicate gonadal hormones at puberty have an effect on the development of masculine and feminine traits. However, it is unknown whether similar processes occur in humans. We examined whether women with anorexia nervosa (AN), who often experience primary amenorrhea, exhibit attenuated feminization in their psychological characteristics in adulthood due to the decrease/absence of gonadal hormones at puberty. Women with AN were compared on a number of psychological characteristics using General Linear Models based on the presence/absence of primary amenorrhea. Although women with primary amenorrhea exhibited lower anxiety scores than those without primary amenorrhea, in general, results did not provide evidence of attenuated feminization in women with AN with primary amenorrhea. Future research should utilize novel techniques and direct hormone measurement to explore the effects of pubertal gonadal hormones on masculine and feminine traits.
Organizational effects; sex differences; amenorrhea; pubertal timing; anorexia nervosa
Previous studies of prognostic factors of anorexia nervosa (AN) course and recovery have followed clinical populations after treatment discharge. This retrospective study examined the association between prognostic factors—eating disorder features, personality traits, and psychiatric comorbidity—and likelihood of recovery in a large sample of women with AN participating in a multi-site genetic study. The study included 680 women with AN. Recovery was defined as the offset of AN symptoms if the participant experienced at least one year without any eating disorder symptoms of low weight, dieting, binge eating, and inappropriate compensatory behaviors. Participants completed a structured interview about eating disorders features, psychiatric comorbidity, and self-report measures of personality. Survival analysis was applied to model time to recovery from AN. Cox regression models were used to fit associations between predictors and the probability of recovery. In the final model, likelihood of recovery was significantly predicted by the following prognostic factors: vomiting, impulsivity, and trait anxiety. Self-induced vomiting and greater trait anxiety were negative prognostic factors and predicted lower likelihood of recovery. Greater impulsivity was a positive prognostic factor and predicted greater likelihood of recovery. There was a significant interaction between impulsivity and time; the association between impulsivity and likelihood of recovery decreased as duration of AN increased. The anxiolytic function of some AN behaviors may impede recovery for individuals with greater trait anxiety.
Eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; recovery; prognostic factors; personality; comorbidity
Women with eating disorders have a significantly higher prevalence of substance use disorders than the general population. The goal of the current study was to assess the temporal pattern of comorbid anorexia nervosa (AN) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) and the impact this ordering has on symptomatology and associated features. Women were placed into one of three groups based on the presence or absence of comorbid AUD and the order of AN and AUD onset in those with both disorders: (1) AN Only, (2) AN First, and (3) AUD First. The groups were compared on psychological symptoms and personality characteristics often associated with AN, AUD, or both using general linear models. Twenty-one percent of women (n = 161) with AN reported a history of AUD with 115 reporting AN onset first and 35 reporting AUD onset first. Women with binge-eating and/or purging type AN were significantly more likely to have AUD. In general, differences were found only between women with AN Only and women with AN and AUD regardless of order of emergence. Women with AN and AUD had higher impulsivity scores and higher prevalence of depression and borderline personality disorder than women with AN Only. Women with AN First scored higher on traits commonly associated with AN, whereas women with comorbid AN and AUD displayed elevations in traits more commonly associated with AUD. Results do not indicate a distinct pattern of symptomatology in comorbid AN and AUD based on the temporal sequence of the disorders.
anorexia nervosa; alcohol use disorder; comorbidity; age of onset
To examine childhood perfectionism in anorexia nervosa (AN) restricting (RAN), purging (PAN), and binge eating with or without purging (BAN) subtypes.
The EATATE, a retrospective assessment of childhood perfectionism, and the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI-2) were administered to 728 AN participants.
EATATE responses revealed General Childhood Perfectionism, 22.3% of 333 with RAN, 29.2% of 220 with PAN, and 24.8% of 116 with BAN; School Work Perfectionism, 31.2% with RAN, 30.4% with PAN, and 24.8% with BAN; Childhood Order and Symmetry, 18.7% with RAN, 21.7% with PAN, and 17.8% with BAN; and Global Childhood Rigidity, 42.6% with RAN, 48.3% with PAN and 48.1% with BAN. Perfectionism preceded the onset of AN in all subtypes. Significant associations between EDI-2 Drive for Thinness and Body Dissatisfaction were present with four EATATE subscales.
Global Childhood Rigidity was the predominate feature that preceded all AN subtypes. This may be a risk factor for AN.
Supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), this 12-site international collaboration seeks to identify genetic variants that affect risk for anorexia nervosa (AN).
Four hundred families will be ascertained with two or more individuals affected with AN. The assessment battery produces a rich set of phenotypes comprising eating disorder diagnoses and psychological and personality features known to be associated with vulnerability to eating disorders.
We report attributes of the first 200 families, comprising 200 probands and 232 affected relatives.
These results provide context for the genotyping of the first 200 families by the Center for Inherited Disease Research. We will analyze our first 200 families for linkage, complete recruitment of roughly 400 families, and then perform final linkage analyses on the complete cohort. DNA, genotypes, and phenotypes will form a national eating disorder repository maintained by NIMH and available to qualified investigators.
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; bulimia nervosa; psychiatric disorders; genetics; linkage analysis; genomics
We studied the relation between intrusive and repetitive hair-pulling, the defining feature of trichotillomania, and compulsive and impulsive features in 1453 individuals with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. We conducted a series of regression models examining the relative influence of compulsive features associated with obsessive compulsive disorder; compulsive features associated with eating disorders; trait features related to harm avoidance, perfectionism and novelty seeking; and self harm. A final model with a reduced sample (n=928) examined the additional contribution of impulsive attributes. One out of 20 individuals endorsed hair-pulling. Evidence of a positive association with endorsement of compulsive behavior of the obsessive compulsive spectrum emerged. Hair-pulling may be more consonant with ritualistic compulsions than impulsive urges in those with eating disorders.
eating disorders; trichotillomania; hair-pulling; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; impulsivity; compulsivity
To further refine our understanding of impulsivity, obsessions, and compulsions in anorexia nervosa (AN) by isolating which behaviors—binge eating, purging, or both—are associated with these features.
We conducted regression analyses with binge eating, purging, and the interaction of binge eating with purging as individual predictors of scores for impulsivity, obsessions, and compulsions in two samples of women with AN (n = 1373).
Purging, but not binge eating, was associated with higher scores of impulsivity, obsessions and compulsions. Purging was also associated with worst eating rituals and with worst eating preoccupations.
Our results suggest that purging, compared with binge eating, may be a stronger correlate of impulsivity, obsessions, and compulsions in AN.
anorexia nervosa; impulsivity; compulsivity; binge eating; purging
To describe obstacles in the implementation of a controlled treatment trial of adolescent anorexia nervosa (AN).
The original aim was to enter 240 participants with AN to one of 4 cells: Behavioral family therapy (BFT) plus fluoxetine; BFT plus placebo; systems family therapy (SFT) plus fluoxetine; SFT plus placebo.
Recruitment was delayed pending a satisfactory resolution concerning participant safety. After 6 months of recruitment it became clear that the medication was associated with poor recruitment leading to a study redesign resulting in a comparison of two types of family therapy with a projected sample size of 160. One site was unable to recruit and was replaced.
Problems with the delineation of safety procedures, recruitment, re-design of the study, and replacement of a site, were the main elements resulting in a 1-year delay. Suggestions are made for overcoming such problems in future AN trials.
Anorexia nervosa; adolescents; Behavioral Family Therapy; Systems Family Therapy; RIAN trial
This exploratory study assessed whether maternal recall of childhood feeding and eating practices differed across anorexia nervosa (AN) subtypes. Participants were 325 women from the Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa study whose mothers completed a childhood feeding and eating questionnaire. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were used to predict AN subtype from measures related to childhood eating: (a) infant feeding (breastfed, feeding schedule, age of solid food introduction), (b) childhood picky eating (picky eating before age one and between ages one and five), and (c) infant gastrointestinal problems (vomiting and colic). Results revealed no significant differences in retrospective maternal report of childhood feeding and eating practices among AN subtypes.
Anorexia Nervosa; Anorexia Nervosa Subtype; Feeding; Maternal Report; Infancy
Follow-up studies of eating disorders (EDs) suggest outcomes ranging from recovery to chronic illness or death, but predictors of outcome have not been consistently identified. We tested 5151 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in approximately 350 candidate genes for association with recovery from ED in 1878 women. Initial analyses focused on a strictly defined discovery cohort of women who were over age 25 years, carried a lifetime diagnosis of an ED, and for whom data were available regarding the presence (n=361 ongoing symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘ill') or absence (n=115 no symptoms in the past year, ie, ‘recovered') of ED symptoms. An intronic SNP (rs17536211) in GABRG1 showed the strongest statistical evidence of association (p=4.63 × 10−6, false discovery rate (FDR)=0.021, odds ratio (OR)=0.46). We replicated these findings in a more liberally defined cohort of women age 25 years or younger (n=464 ill, n=107 recovered; p=0.0336, OR=0.68; combined sample p=4.57 × 10−6, FDR=0.0049, OR=0.55). Enrichment analyses revealed that GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) SNPs were over-represented among SNPs associated at p<0.05 in both the discovery (Z=3.64, p=0.0003) and combined cohorts (Z=2.07, p=0.0388). In follow-up phenomic association analyses with a third independent cohort (n=154 ED cases, n=677 controls), rs17536211 was associated with trait anxiety (p=0.049), suggesting a possible mechanism through which this variant may influence ED outcome. These findings could provide new insights into the development of more effective interventions for the most treatment-resistant patients.
GABA; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; genetic association; single nucleotide polymorphisms; eating/metabolic disorders; GABA; eating/metabolic disorders; neurogenetics; biological psychiatry; genetic association; anorexia nervosa; recovery from eating disorders; single-nucleotide polymorphisms; phenomic association
Comorbidity among eating disorders, traumatic events, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been reported in several studies. The main objectives of this study were to describe the nature of traumatic events experienced and to explore the relation between PTSD and anorexia nervosa (AN) in a sample of women.
Eight hundred twenty-four participants from the National Institutes of Health funded Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa Collaborative Study were assessed for eating disorders, PTSD, and personality characteristics.
From a final sample of 753 women with AN, 13.7% (n=103) met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. The sample mean age was 29.5 years (SD=11.1). In pairwise comparisons across AN subtypes, the odds of having a PTSD diagnosis were significantly lower in individuals with restricting AN (RAN) than individuals with purging AN without binge eating (PAN) (OR=0.49, 95% CI=0.30, 0.80). The majority of participants with PTSD reported the first traumatic event before the onset of AN (64.1%, n=66). The most common traumatic events reported by those with a PTSD diagnosis were sexual related traumas during childhood (40.8%) and during adulthood (35.0%).
AN and PTSD do co-occur and traumatic events tend to occur prior to the onset of AN. Clinically, these results underscore the importance of assessing trauma history and PTSD in individuals with AN and raise the question of whether specific modifications or augmentations to standard treatment for AN should be considered in a subgroup to address PTSD-related psychopathology.
PTSD; anorexia nervosa; trauma; prevalence; comorbid; epigenetic
This analysis is a follow-up to an earlier investigation of 182 genes selected as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN). As those initial case-control results revealed no statistically significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms, herein we investigate alternative phenotypes associated with AN. In 1762 females using regression analyses we examined: (1) lowest illness-related attained body mass index; (2) age at menarche; (3) drive for thinness; (4) body dissatisfaction; (5) trait anxiety; (6) concern over mistakes; and (7) the anticipatory worry and pessimism vs. uninhibited optimism subscale of the harm avoidance scale. After controlling for multiple comparisons, no statistically significant results emerged. Although results must be viewed in the context of limitations of statistical power, the approach illustrates a means of potentially identifying genetic variants conferring susceptibility to AN because less complex phenotypes associated with AN are more proximal to the genotype and may be influenced by fewer genes.
covariates; eating disorders; association studies; personality; genetic
Extensive population-based genome-wide association studies have identified an association between the FTO gene and BMI; however, the mechanism of action is still unknown. To determine whether FTO may influence weight regulation through psychological and behavioral factors, seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the FTO gene were genotyped in 1085 individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and 677 healthy weight controls from the international Price Foundation Genetic Studies of Eating Disorders. Each SNP was tested in association with eating disorder phenotypes and measures that have previously been associated with eating behavior pathology: trait anxiety, harm-avoidance, novelty seeking, impulsivity, obsessionality, compulsivity, and concern over mistakes. After appropriate correction for multiple comparisons, no significant associations between individual FTO gene SNPs and eating disorder phenotypes or related eating behavior pathology were identified in cases or controls. Thus, this study found no evidence that FTO gene variants associated with weight regulation in the general population are associated with eating disorder phenotypes in AN participants or matched controls.
We investigated sociodemographic characteristics in women with and without lifetime eating disorders.
Participants were from a multi-site international study of eating disorders (N = 2096). Education level, relationship status, and reproductive status were examined across eating disorder subtypes and compared with a healthy control group.
Overall, women with eating disorders were less educated than controls, and duration of illness and age of onset were associated with educational attainment. Menstrual status was associated with both relationship and reproductive status, but eating disorder subtypes did not differ significantly from each other or from healthy controls on these dimensions.
Differences in educational attainment, relationships, and reproduction do exist in individuals with eating disorders and are differentially associated with various eating disorder symptoms and characteristics. These data could assist with educating patients and family members about long-term consequences of eating disorders.
Children; relationship; education; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; amenorrhea
We examined prevalence of substance use disorders (SUD) in women with: (1) anorexia nervosa (AN) restricting type (RAN); (2) AN with purging only (PAN); (3) AN with binge eating only (BAN); and (4) lifetime AN and bulimia nervosa (ANBN). Secondary analyses examined SUD related to lifetime purging behavior and lifetime binge eating.
Participants (N = 731) were drawn from the International Price Foundation Genetic Studies.
The prevalence of SUD differed across AN subtypes, with more in the ANBN group reporting SUD than those in the RAN and PAN groups. Individuals who purged were more likely to report substance use than those who did not purge. Prevalence of SUD differed across lifetime binge eating status.
SUD are common in AN and are associated with bulimic symptomatology. Results underscore the heterogeneity in AN, highlighting the importance of screening for SUD across AN subtypes.
eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; drug use; alcohol related disorders; cannabis
Extremely low body mass index (BMI) values are associated with increased risk for death and poor long-term prognosis in individuals with AN. The present study explores childhood personality characteristics that could be associated with the ability to attain an extremely low BMI.
Participants were 326 women from the Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa (GAN) Study who completed the Structured Interview for Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimic Syndromes and whose mother completed the Child Behavioral Check List and/or Revised Dimensions of Temperament Survey.
Children who were described as having greater fear or anxiety by their mothers attained lower BMIs during AN (p <0.02). Path analysis in the GAN and a validation sample, Price Foundation Anorexia Nervosa Trios Study, confirmed the relation between early childhood anxiety, caloric restriction, qualitative food item restriction, excessive exercise, and low BMI. Path analysis also confirmed a relation between childhood anxiety and caloric restriction, which mediated the relation between childhood anxiety and low BMI in the GAN sample only.
Fearful or anxious behavior as a child was associated with the attainment of low BMI in AN and childhood anxiety was associated with caloric restriction. Measures of anxiety and factors associated with anxiety-proneness in childhood may index children at risk for restrictive behaviors and extremely low BMIs in AN.
Anorexia Nervosa; Anxiety; Body Mass Index
We performed association studies with 5,151 SNPs that were judged as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN) based on location under reported linkage peaks, previous results in the literature (182 candidate genes), brain expression, biological plausibility, and estrogen responsivity. We employed a case–control design that tested each SNP individually as well as haplotypes derived from these SNPs in 1,085 case individuals with AN diagnoses and 677 control individuals. We also performed separate association analyses using three increasingly restrictive case definitions for AN: all individuals with any subtype of AN (All AN: n = 1,085); individuals with AN with no binge eating behavior (AN with No Binge Eating: n = 687); and individuals with the restricting subtype of AN (Restricting AN: n = 421). After accounting for multiple comparisons, there were no statistically significant associations for any individual SNP or haplotype block with any definition of illness. These results underscore the importance of large samples to yield appropriate power to detect genotypic differences in individuals with AN and also motivate complementary approaches involving Genome-Wide Association (GWA) studies, Copy Number Variation (CNV) analyses, sequencing-based rare variant discovery assays, and pathway-based analysis in order to make up for deficiencies in traditional candidate gene approaches to AN.
single nucleotide polymorphisms; probands; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa
We investigated the relation between diet pill use and eating disorder subtype, purging and other compensatory behaviors, body mass index (BMI), tobacco and caffeine use, alcohol abuse or dependence, personality characteristics, and Axis I and Axis II disorders in 1,345 participants from the multisite Price Foundation Genetics Studies. Diet pill use was significantly less common in women with restricting type of AN than in women with other eating disorder subtypes. In addition, diet pill use was associated with the use of multiple weight control behaviors, higher BMI, higher novelty seeking, and the presence of anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse or dependence, and borderline personality disorder. Findings suggest that certain clinical and personality variables distinguish individuals with eating disorders who use diet pills from those who do not. In the eating disorder population, vigilant screening for diet pill use should be routine clinical practice.
Eating disorders; diet pills; weight control behaviors; novelty seeking