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Genetics and epigenetics of eating disorders

Authors Yilmaz Z, Hardaway A, Bulik C

Received 20 May 2014

Accepted for publication 18 July 2014

Published 10 March 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 131—150

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AGG.S55776

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Video abstract presented by Yilmaz Z, Hardaway JA, and Bulik CM.

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Zeynep Yilmaz,1 J Andrew Hardaway,1 Cynthia M Bulik1–3

1Department of Psychiatry, 2Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA; 3Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Eating disorders (EDs) are serious psychiatric conditions influenced by biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. A better understanding of the genetics of these complex traits and the development of more sophisticated molecular biology tools have advanced our understanding of the etiology of EDs. The aim of this review is to critically evaluate the literature on the genetic research conducted on three major EDs: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. We will first review the diagnostic criteria, clinical features, prevalence, and prognosis of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, followed by a review of family, twin, and adoption studies. We then review the history of genetic studies of EDs covering linkage analysis, candidate-gene association studies, genome-wide association studies, and the study of rare variants in EDs. Our review also incorporates a translational perspective by covering animal models of ED-related phenotypes. Finally, we review the nascent field of epigenetics of EDs and a look forward to future directions for ED genetic research.

Keywords: anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, animal models, genome-wide association studies, high-throughput sequencing

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