Lack of association between anorexia nervosa and D3 dopamine receptor gene

Biol Psychiatry. 1998 Jan 1;43(1):76-8. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(97)00199-6.


Background: Evidence from family and twin studies suggests a genetic contribution to the etiology of anorexia nervosa. Different genes could contribute to the vulnerability to anorexia nervosa, but dopamine could be more specifically implicated in anorexia nervosa because of pharmacologic, endocrine, and neurobiological specificities. The dopamine receptor D3 (DRD3) may be of additional interest, since it is specifically located in the limbic area, an area implicated in reward and reinforcement behavior.

Methods: We performed an association study between 39 patients with severe (requiring hospitalization and with young age at onset) anorexia nervosa (DSM-III-R), and 42 controls, with the Bal I polymorphism in exon I of the DRD3 gene.

Results: There was no significant difference between patients with anorexia nervosa and controls in allele frequencies or genotype count. The association was still negative between subgroups separated according to family history of anorexia nervosa or comorbid mood disorders.

Conclusions: Despite the fact that the number of patients tested is small, there is good evidence that the Bal I DRD3 polymorphism does not play a major role in the genetic component of anorexia nervosa. It would be useful to test polymorphisms of the other genes coding for dopamine receptors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Anorexia Nervosa / genetics*
  • Child
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / genetics
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3


  • DRD3 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • DNA