Genetics of eating disorders

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):423. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0423-y.


Disordered eating behavior is the core symptom of the complex disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Twin and family studies derive high heritability estimates. Hence, substantial genetic influences on the etiology can be assumed for both. Initially, candidate gene studies pertaining to the monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems and to body weight regulation comprised the core of the genetic analyses. Unfortunately, confirmed, solid findings substantiated in meta-analyses are rare, so that eventually none of these associations is unequivocal. Thus, systematic, genome-wide approaches emerged to identify genes with no a priori evidence for their involvement in eating disorders. Genome-wide association studies have hinted to formerly unknown genetic regions. However, significant genome-wide findings have not yet been reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anorexia / genetics*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / genetics*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Twin Studies as Topic