A giant step in study of genetic architecture of anorexia nervosa


Fernando Fernández Aranda and Susana Jiménez Murcia, from the Department of Clinical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB and the Department of Psychiatry at the Bellvitge niversity Hospital.

Fernando Fernández Aranda and Susana Jiménez Murcia, from the Department of Clinical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB and the Department of Psychiatry at the Bellvitge niversity Hospital.


Researcher Raquel Rabionet, at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona.

Researcher Raquel Rabionet, at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona.

Researchers of the University of Barcelona, the Bellviatge University Hospital – IDIBELL and CIBERobn, from the Group of Eating Disorders from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), identified eight genetic markers in almost 1,700 cases of anorexia nervosa. The analysis, the most comprehensive report so far on genomic association for this disorder, has been published in the science journal Nature Genetics.

Experts Fernando Fernández Aranda and Susana Jiménez Murcia, from the Department of Clinical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the UB and the Psychiatry Department of the Bellvitge University Hospital, are part of this big initiative which counts on the collaboration of 184 experts integrated in more than 154 centers and research institutions worldwide. Among other participants is the researcher Raquel Rabionet, from the Group on Human Molecular Genetics from the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of the Faculty of Biology, the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Barcelona (IBUB), and the Research Institute Sant Joan de Déu (IRSJD).

The researchers analysed the genomes of 16,992 patients with anorexia nervosa and 55,525 from the control group with the data gathered by the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative and the Group on Eating Disorders from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. The authors identified eight genetic markers associated with this disorder and could conduct a precise analysis of the disorder’s genetic architecture. Also, they found this disorder to have genetic correlations with other psychiatric disorders, such as the obsessive-compulsive disorder and the major depressive disorder, as well as physical activity, obesity and other metabolic features.

According to Fernández Aranda, “with this, we could explain the metabolic deregulation in patients with anorexia nervosa even after a therapeutical restoration, as well as the existing interrelation between extreme weight conditions; therefore, after this discovery we need to value the reconceptualization of this disorder as a psychiatric metabolic disorder”.

The authors conclude that these findings provide additional evidence to prove anorexia nervosa is a polyhedral disease, which has an interaction between variables associated to the base mental disorder and involved metabolic factors.

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