Eating Disorders are complex psychiatric problems that involve biologic and psychological factors. Brain imaging studies provide insights how functionally connected brain networks may contribute to disturbed eating behavior, resulting in food refusal and altered body weight, but also body preoccupations and heightened anxiety. In this article we review the current state of brain imaging in eating disorders, and how such techniques may help identify pathways that could be important in the treatment of those often detrimental disorders.
Is starvation in anorexia nervosa (AN) or overeating in bulimia nervosa (BN) a form of addiction? Alternatively, why are individuals with BN more vulnerable and AN protected from substance abuse? Such questions have been generated by recent studies that suggest that there are overlapping neural circuits for foods and drugs of abuse.
In order to determine whether a shared neurobiology contributes to eating disorders (EDs) and substance abuse, this review focused on imaging studies that investigated response to tastes of food and tasks designed to characterize reward and behavioral inhibition in AN and BN.
BN and those with substance abuse disorders may share dopamine D2 receptor related vulnerabilities, and opposite findings may contribute to “protection” from substance abuse in AN. Moreover, imaging studies provide insights into executive cortico-striatal processes related to extraordinary inhibition and self-control in AN and diminished inhibitory self-control in BN that may influence the rewarding aspect of palatable foods and likely other consummatory behaviors.
AN and BN tend to have premorbid traits, such as perfectionism and anxiety that make them vulnerable to employing extremes of food ingestion which serve to reduce negative mood states. Dysregulation within and/or between limbic and executive cortio-striatal circuits contributes to such symptoms. Limited data support the hypothesis that reward and inhibitory processes may contribute to symptoms in ED and addictive disorders, but little is known about the molecular biology of such mechanisms in terms of shared or independent processes.
imaging; eating disorders; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; PET; fMRI; addictive Disorders
No studies have compared the response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and atypical antipsychotics in anorexia nervosa. This case study examines such a comparison.
This report describes a case of 12-year-old identical twins with anorexia nervosa, one of whom was treated with olanzapine and the other with fluoxetine, while undergoing family therapy.
Twin A treated with fluoxetine went from 75% to 84.4% ideal body weight, while Twin B treated with olanzapine went from 72% to 99.9% ideal body weight over the course of 9 months.
This case supports the need for adequately powered, controlled clinical trials to test the efficacy of olanzapine in adolescents presenting with anorexia nervosa.
Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) have alterations of measures of serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) function, which persist after long-term recovery and are associated with elevated harm avoidance (HA), a measure of anxiety and behavioral inhibition.
Based on theories that 5-HT is an aversive motivational system that may oppose a DA-related appetitive system, we explored interactions of positron emission tomography (PET) radioligand measures that reflect portions of these systems.
Twenty-seven individuals recovered (REC) from eating disorders (EDs) (7 AN-BN, 11 AN, 9 BN) and 9 control women (CW) were analyzed for correlations between [11C]McN5652 and [11C]raclopride binding.
There was a positive correlation between [11C]McN5652 binding potential BPnon displaceable(ND)) and [11C]raclopride BPND for the dorsal caudate (r(27) = .62; p < .001), antero-ventral striatum (r(27) = .55, p = .003), middle caudate (r(27) = .68; p < .001), ventral (r(27) = .64; p < .001) and dorsal putamen (r(27) = .42; p = .03). No significant correlations were found in CW. [11C]raclopride BPND, but not [11C]McN5652 BPND, was significantly related to HA in REC EDs. A linear regression analysis showed that the interaction between [11C]McN5652 BPND and [11C]raclopride BPND in the dorsal putamen significantly (b = 140.04; t (22) = 2.21; p = .04) predicted HA.
This is the first study using PET and the radioligands [11C]McN5652 and [11C]raclopride to show a direct relationship between 5-HT transporter and striatal DA D2/D3 receptor binding in humans, supporting the possibility that 5-HT and DA interactions contribute to HA behaviors in EDs.
anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; positron emission tomography; dopamine; serotonin; harm avoidance
Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) engage in relentless, restrictive eating and often become severely emaciated. Because there are no proven treatments, AN has high rates of relapse, chronicity, and death. Those with AN tend to have childhood temperament and personality traits, such as anxiety, obsessions, and perfectionism, which may reflect neurobiological risk factors for developing AN. Restricted eating may be a means of reducing negative mood caused by skewed interactions between serotonin aversive or inhibitory and dopamine reward systems. Brain imaging studies suggest altered eating is a consequence of dysregulated reward, and/or awareness of homeostatic needs, perhaps related to enhanced executive ability to inhibit incentive motivational drives. Understanding the neurobiology of this disorder is likely to be important for developing more effective treatments.
anorexia nervosa; eating disorders; dopamine; serotonin; fMRI; PET brain imaging
Recent evidence raises the possibility that symptoms of anorexia nervosa (AN) could be related to impaired interoception. Pain is an interoceptive process with well-characterized neuroanatomical pathways that may overlap to a large degree with neural systems that may be dysregulated in AN individuals, such as the insula.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to assess neural substrates of pain anticipation and processing in ten healthy control women (CW) and 12 individuals recovered from AN (REC AN) in order to avoid the confounding effects of malnutrition. Painful heat stimuli were applied while different colors signaled the intensity of the upcoming stimuli.
REC AN compared to CW showed greater activation within right anterior insula (rAI), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and cingulate during pain anticipation, and greater activation within dlPFC and decreased activation within posterior insula during painful stimulation. Greater anticipatory rAI activation correlated positively with alexithymic feelings in REC AN subjects.
REC AN showed a mismatch between anticipation and objective responses, suggesting altered integration and, possibly, disconnection between reported and actual interoceptive state. Alexithymia assessment provided additional evidence of an altered ability to accurately perceive bodily signals in women recovered from anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia; insula; pain; anticipation; homeostasis; fmri; interoception; alexithymia; eating disorders; dorsolateral prefrontal
Restoration of weight and nutritional status are key elements in the treatment of anorexia nervosa (AN). This review aims to describe issues related to the caloric requirements needed to gain and maintain weight for short and long-term recovery for AN inpatients and outpatients.
We reviewed the literature in PubMed pertaining to nutritional restoration in AN between 1960–2012. Based on this search, several themes emerged: 1. AN eating behavior; 2. Weight restoration in AN; 3. Role of exercise and metabolism in resistance to weight gain; 3. Medical consequences of weight restoration; 4. Rate of weight gain; 5. Weight maintenance; and 6. Nutrient intake.
A fair amount is known about overall caloric requirements for weight restoration and maintenance for AN. For example, starting at 30–40 kilocalories per kilogram per day (kcal/kg/day) with increases up to 70–100 kcal/kg/day can achieve a weight gain of 1–1.5 kg/week for inpatients. However, little is known about the effects of nutritional deficits on weight gain, or how to meet nutrient requirements for restoration of nutritional status.
This review seeks to draw attention to the need for the development of a foundation of basic nutritional knowledge about AN so that future treatment can be evidenced-based.
Anorexia nervosa; Treatment resistance; Nutritional rehabilitation; Refeeding; Weight restoration; Weight maintenance; Caloric requirements; Refeeding syndrome
Adult anorexia nervosa (AN) is associated with inefficient cognitive flexibility and set-shifting. Whether such inefficiencies also characterize adolescent AN is an important area of research.
Adolescents with AN and matched controls were administered a computerized task that required initial learning of an explicit rule using corrective feedback and learning of a new rule after a set number of trials. Adult patients with AN and controls were also examined.
Adolescents with AN did not differ from matched controls with respect to set-shifting cost (decrease in performance after rule change), whereas adults with AN had significantly greater set-shifting cost compared with controls.
This study suggests that set-shifting inefficiencies may not be a vulnerability factor for AN development in adolescents with AN, but might become an important aspect of the disorder at later age, and could point towards developmental neurobiologic brain changes that could affect AN at different ages.
anorexia nervosa; neurobiology; childhood; set shifting; cognitive flexibility
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
The early postpartum period is associated with increased risk for affective and psychotic disorders. Because maternal dopaminergic reward system function is altered with perinatal status, dopaminergic system dysregulation may be an important mechanism of postpartum psychiatric disorders. Subjects included were non-postpartum healthy (n=13), postpartum healthy (n=13), non-postpartum unipolar depressed (n=10), non-postpartum bipolar depressed (n=7), postpartum unipolar (n=13), and postpartum bipolar depressed (n=7) women. Subjects underwent 60 min of [11C]raclopride–positron emission tomography imaging to determine the nondisplaceable striatal D2/3 receptor binding potential (BPND). Postpartum status and unipolar depression were associated with lower striatal D2/3 receptor BPND in the whole striatum (p=0.05 and p=0.02, respectively) that reached a maximum of 7–8% in anteroventral striatum for postpartum status (p=0.02). Unipolar depression showed a nonsignificant trend toward being associated with 5% lower BPND in dorsal striatum (p=0.06). D2/3 receptor BPND did not differ significantly between unipolar depressed and healthy postpartum women or between bipolar and healthy subjects; however, D2/3 receptor BPND was higher in dorsal striatal regions in bipolar relative to unipolar depressives (p=0.02). In conclusion, lower striatal D2/3 receptor BPND in postpartum and unipolar depressed women, primarily in ventral striatum, and higher dorsal striatal D2/3 receptor BPND in bipolar relative to unipolar depressives reveal a potential role for the dopamine (DA) system in the physiology of these states. Further studies delineating the mechanisms underlying these differences in D2/3 receptor BPND, including study of DA system responsivity to rewarding stimuli, and increasing power to assess unipolar vs bipolar-related differences, are needed to better understand the affective role of the DA system in postpartum and depressed women.
D2/3 receptors; postpartum depression; PET; women; major depressive disorder; depression; unipolar; bipolar; imaging; clinical or preclinical; dopamine; psychiatry & behavioral sciences; D2/3 receptors; postpartum depression; positron emission tomography; women
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 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 propose a translational approach to the study of anorexia nervosa (AN) based on our human subject studies where there are characteristic elevations in 5-HT1A receptor binding, associated harm avoidance behaviors, reduced impulsivity, and comorbid anxiety disorders. Towards this goal, the hyponeophagia assay was implemented whereby food-deprived mice show increased latency to begin feeding in a novel, anxiogenic environment. The non-selective serotonin agonist, 5-MeODMT, potentiates feeding inhibition compared to the inhibition generated by the anxiogenic environment in a drug-by-environment interaction. Thus, using hyponeophagia in mice, it was possible to study the following key components of AN: anxiety; feeding inhibition; and a modulatory role of the serotonergic system. A major prediction of the proposed AN model is that 5-HT1A receptor activation is necessary for feeding inhibition. In support of this model, the 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, WAY100635, reverses the 5-MeODMT-dependent potentiation of feeding inhibition. Our findings hint at a mechanistic role for increased 5-HT1A receptor activation in restricting-type AN. Further implications for the interplay between anxiety and feeding inhibition in AN are discussed.
Serotonin; Anorexia; Feeding; Anxiety; Impulsivity; Novelty
Family and twin studies have indicated that genetic factors play a role in the development of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, but novel views and tools may enhance the identification of neurobiological mechanisms underlying these conditions. Here we propose an integrative genetic approach to reveal novel biological substrates of eating disorder traits analogous in mouse and human. For example, comparable to behavioral hyperactivity that is observed in 40-80% of anorexia nervosa patients, inbred strains of mice with different genetic backgrounds are differentially susceptible to develop behavioral hyperactivity when food restricted. In addition, a list of characteristics that are relevant to eating disorders and approaches to their measurement in humans together with potential analogous rodent models has been generated. Interspecies genetics of neurobehavioral characteristics of eating disorders has the potential to open new roads to identify and functionally test genetic pathways that influence neurocircuits relevant for these heterogeneous psychiatric disorders.
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
Recent studies suggest that altered function of higher-order appetitive neural circuitry may contribute to restricted eating in anorexia nervosa and overeating in bulimia nervosa. This study used sweet tastes to interrogate gustatory neurocircuitry involving the anterior insula and related regions that modulate sensory-interoceptive-reward signals in response to palatable foods.
Subjects recovered from anorexia and bulimia were studied to avoid confounding effects of altered nutritional state. Functional magnetic resonance imaging measured brain response to repeated tastes of sucrose and sucralose to disentangle neural processing of caloric and non-caloric sweet tastes. Whole-brain functional analysis was constrained to anatomical regions of interest.
Compared to matched control women (n=14), women recovered from anorexia (n=14) had diminished (F(1,27)=7.79, p=0.01) and women recovered from bulimia (n=14) had exaggerated (F(1,27)=6.12, p=0.02) right anterior insula hemodynamic response to tastes of sucrose. Furthermore, anterior insula responses to sucrose compared to sucralose was exaggerated in recovered subjects (lower in women recovered from anorexia and higher in women recovered from bulimia).
The anterior insula integrates sensory/reward aspects of taste in the service of nutritional homeostasis. For example, one possibility is that restricted eating and weight loss occur in anorexia nervosa because of a failure to accurately recognize hunger signals, whereas overeating in bulimia nervosa could represent an exaggerated perception of hunger signals. This response may reflect the altered calibration of signals related to sweet taste and the caloric content of food and may offer a pathway to novel and more effective treatments.
Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) are often cognitively rigid and behaviorally over-controlled. We previously showed that adult females recovered from AN relative to healthy comparison females had less prefrontal activation during an inhibition task, which suggested a functional brain correlate of altered inhibitory processing in individuals recovered from AN. However, the degree to which these functional brain alterations are related to disease state and whether error processing is altered in AN individuals is unknown.
In the current study, ill adolescent AN females (n = 11) and matched healthy comparison adolescents (CA) with no history of an eating disorder (n = 12) performed a validated stop signal task (SST) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore differences in error and inhibitory processing. The groups did not differ on sociodemographic variables or on SST performance. During inhibitory processing, a significant group x difficulty (hard, easy) interaction was detected in the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), and left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which was characterized by less activation in AN compared to CA participants during hard trials. During error processing, a significant group x accuracy (successful inhibit, failed inhibit) interaction in bilateral MFG and right PCC was observed, which was characterized by less activation in AN compared to CA participants during error (i.e., failed inhibit) trials.
Consistent with our prior findings in recovered AN, ill AN adolescents, relative to CA, showed less inhibition-related activation within the dorsal ACC, MFG and PCC as inhibitory demand increased. In addition, ill AN adolescents, relative to CA, also showed reduced activation to errors in the bilateral MFG and left PCC. These findings suggest that altered prefrontal and cingulate activation during inhibitory and error processing may represent a behavioral characteristic in AN that is independent of the state of recovery.
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.
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
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