What is the role of genetic factors in the etiology of anorexia nervosa?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019
  • Author: Bettina E Bernstein, DO; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Reported cases of anorexia nervosa in twins and triplets suggest the possibility of an increased genetic predisposition. [27, 28] Indeed, there is evidence from twin studies to suggest that the genetic contribution to the disease is as high as 50-80%, a heritability estimate similar to that for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. [29, 30]

There may be variations of the 5HTT (serotonin transporter gene) genome (eg, biallelic, triallelic) that are associated with subtypes of eating disorders and that interact with life-history factors. [31, 32, 33]

There is also evidence that an area on band 1p at the DF1153721 locus may be related to a 7% increased incidence of anorexia nervosa in first-degree relatives. [34] Genetic risk factors may also be predictive of specific complications in anorexia nervosa, such as bone loss. [35]

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