Background: Several lines of evidence indicate that the central cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) as well as the major endocannabinoid degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), N-acylethanolamine-hydrolyzing acid amidase (NAAA) and monoglyceride lipase (MGLL) are implicated in mediating the orexigenic effects of cannabinoids. The aim of this study was to analyse whether nucleotide sequence variations in the CNR1, FAAH, NAAA and MGLL genes are associated with anorexia nervosa (AN).
Methods: We analysed the association of a previously described (AAT)n repeat in the 3' flanking region of CNR1 as well as a total of 15 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) representative of regions with restricted haplotype diversity in CNR1, FAAH, NAAA or MGLL in up to 91 German AN trios (patient with AN and both biological parents) using the transmission-disequilibrium-test (TDT). One SNP was additionally analysed in an independent case-control study comprising 113 patients with AN and 178 normal weight controls. Genotyping was performed using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry, ARMS-PCR or using 3730xl capillary sequencers.
Results: The TDT revealed no evidence for association for any of the SNPs or the (AAT)n repeat with AN (all two-sided uncorrected p-values > 0.05). The lowest p-value of 0.11 was detected for the A-allele of the CNR1 SNP rs1049353 for which the transmission rate was 59% (95% confidence interval 47%...70%). Further genotyping of rs1049353 in 113 additional independent patients with AN and 178 normal weight controls could not substantiate the initial trend for association (p = 1.00).
Conclusion: As we found no evidence for an association of genetic variation in CNR1, FAAH, NAAA and MGLL with AN, we conclude that genetic variations in these genes do not play a major role in the etiology of AN in our study groups.