Pitt, VCU researchers find genetic link to bulimia nervosa

December 11, 2002

RICHMOND, VA, Dec. 11 - A team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have linked an area of chromosome 10p to families with a history of bulimia nervosa, providing strong evidence that genes play a determining role in who is susceptible to developing the eating disorder.

The finding, gleaned from blood studies of 316 patients with bulimia and their family members, is the result of the first multinational collaborative genome-wide linkage scan to look exclusively at bulimia. Earlier this year, another linkage scan found evidence of genes for the eating disorder anorexia nervosa on chromosome 1.

This study, led by Walter H. Kaye, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), and authored by Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., a professor in VCU's Department of Psychiatry and a researcher at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, VA, appears today in the online edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics. It will be published in the Jan. 1, 2003 print edition.

Bulimia is a psychiatric disorder characterized by episodes of binge-eating (eating unusually large amounts of food in a short time and feeling out of control), compensatory behavior such as self-induced vomiting and laxative abuse and over-concern about body shape and weight.

The results build upon the authors' prior research involving twins with bulimia in which they found the first evidence of bulimia's heritability.

"This linkage study takes the twin studies one step further and informs us where to start looking in the genome for genes that may influence bulimia nervosa," said Dr. Bulik.

"Studies such as this one should help us understand how differences in the genes of some individuals contribute to this illness," said Dr. Kaye. "Identifying this region on 10p is an important step in what may be a long search for more effective treatments and preventative therapies for bulimia."

"Despite progress in understanding the biological and genetic underpinnings of eating disorders, the perception remains that these are self-imposed and socio-culturally caused disorders," said Dr. Bulik. "Our twin research has been showing that bulimia nervosa is hereditary, but the human genome is huge, and it will take many years of this type of research to narrow down our search for these genes."

The research was funded by the Price Foundation, a private, European-based foundation that, for more than a decade, has supported Drs. Bulik and Kaye and a group of collaborators at 10 locations in North America and Europe. Over the past several years, this group of researchers, under the principal direction of Dr. Kaye, has been successful at recruiting study participants. In the past two years, it has made tremendous progress in the search for genetic clues to eating disorders, including bulimia and anorexia nervosa. In October, Dr. Kaye announced that the National Institute of Mental Health had awarded the group a five-year, $10-million grant to study anorexia, the first time the government has funded genetic research of eating disorders.
-end-
The other researchers include Bernie Devlin, Silviu-Alin Bacanu and Laura Thornton, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Kelly L. Klump, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan State University; Manfred M. Fichter, Roseneck Hospital for Behavioural Medicine, University of Munich; Katherine A. Halmi, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University; Allan S. Kaplan and D. Blake Woodside, Program for Eating Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital; Michael Strober, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, University of California at Los Angeles; Andrew W. Bergen, Core Genotyping Facility, Advanced Technology Center, National Cancer Institute; Kelly Ganjei, Biognosis, U.S., Inc.; Scott Crow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota; James Mitchell, Neuropsychiatric Research Institute; Alessandro Rotondo, Mauro Mauri and Giovanni Cassano, Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Biotechnologies, University of Pisa; Pamela Keel, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard University; and Wade H. Berrettini, Center of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Pennsylvania.

About VCU: Virginia Commonwealth University is ranked by the Carnegie Foundation as one of the nation's top research universities. Located on two campuses in Richmond, VA, VCU enrolls 26,000 students in more than 160 undergraduate, graduate, professional, doctoral and post-graduate certificate degree programs at 11 schools and one college. Sixteen graduate and professional programs have been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the best of their kind in the nation. The VCU Health System is one of the leading academic medical centers in the country. The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics is a multi-disciplined, integrated research program of VCU's departments of psychiatry and human genetics, focused on identifying genes and environments that cause psychiatric diseases and behavioral differences. See http://www.vipbg.vcu.edu/.

About WPIC: The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic is one of the nation's foremost university-based psychiatric hospitals and one of the world's largest centers for research and treatment of affective disorders. The university's Department of Psychiatry is the nation's largest recipient of National Institutes of Health funding for psychiatric research. WPIC is known worldwide for its research and treatment programs in depression, Alzheimer's disease, sleep disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and other mental health problems. See http://www.upmc.com.

CONTACT: Craig Dunhoff, UPMC News Bureau
PHONE: (412) 647-3555
E-MAIL: DunhoffCC@upmc.edu

CONTACT: Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics
PHONE: (804) 828-8133
E-MAIL: cbulik@hsc.vcu.edu

CONTACT: Lorraine Cichowski, VCU News Services
PHONE: (804) 828-1231
E-MAIL: lcichowski@vcu.edu

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Related Eating Disorders Articles from Brightsurf:

Virtual Reality health appointments can help patients address eating disorders
Research from the University of Kent, the Research centre on Interactive Media, Smart systems and Emerging technologies -- RISE Ltd and the University of Cyprus has revealed that Virtual Reality (VR) technology can have significant impact on the validity of remote health appointments for those with eating disorders, through a process called Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET).

Study links eating disorders with body dysmorphia
People with eating disorders are 12 times more likely to be preoccupied with perceived flaws in their physical appearance than those without, according to new research published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders.

College students access eating disorders therapy via phone app
Studying college women with eating disorders, a team led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Research reveals toll of pandemic on those with eating disorders
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound, negative impact on nine out of ten people with experience of eating disorders, a new study from Northumbria University, Newcastle, reveals.

Does posting edited self photos on social media increase risk of eating disorders?
New research published in International Journal Eating Disorders revealed a consistent and direct link between posting edited photos on Instagram and risk factors for eating disorders.

Face up to eating disorders, and seek help
A new study has found young people are leaving it 'too late' to seek help for eating disorders, citing fear of losing control over their eating or weight, denial, and failure to perceive the severity of the illness as reasons not to get professional advice.

Excessive sports in case of eating disorders: Psychological mechanisms decoded
Excessive and obsessive exercise is very harmful to health, particularly for persons suffering from eating disorders.

Helping patients with binge eating disorders: There's an app for that
Study suggests that adaptation of smartphone technology is a scalable option that significantly improves clinical outcomes.

Eating disorders linked to exercise addiction
New research shows that exercise addiction is nearly four times more common amongst people with an eating disorder.

Focus on teenage anxiety may aid early identification of those at risk of eating disorders
Teenage girls who experience clinical levels of anxiety could be at greater risk of eating disorders, according to associations identified in a study completed by researchers at the University of Bristol with UCL.

Read More: Eating Disorders News and Eating Disorders Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.