Anorexia: genetic and environmental risk factors uncovered

Posted on April 14, 2016

Photo: flickr

The researchers of this latest study, led by Lori Zeltser, PhD, from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), say that although previous animal models of anorexia have included some variables, there were not any that were able to incorporate the social stress and genetic components of anxiety and anorexia that likely contribute to anorexia in humans.

The team exposed adolescent mice to at least one copy of the BDNF gene variant. This gene has been linked with anorexia and anxiety in both mice and humans.

When the adolescent mice with the BDNF gene variant were exposed to both social isolation stress and a restricted diet, the researchers observed that they were more likely to avoid eating than control mice.

Interestingly, when the researchers imposed these environmental variables on adult mice, the feeding behavior changes did not happen.

Zeltser says: 
"Our findings show that having the at-risk genotype alone is not sufficient to cause anorexia-like behavior, but it confers susceptibility to social stress and dieting, especially during adolescence. You need all of these variables in place to see this robust effect on eating."

Category(s):Eating Disorders

Source material from Columbia University Medical Center

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