BDNF genetic variability modulates psychopathological symptoms in patients with eating disorders

Abstract

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene may influence eating behavior, body weight and cognitive impairments. We aimed to investigate whether BDNF genetic variability may affect anthropometric and psychological parameters in patients with anorexia or bulimia nervosa (AN, BN) and/or modulate the risk for the disorder. A total of 169 unrelated female patients and 312 healthy controls were genotyped for two common BDNF single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), Val66Met and C-270T, and several selected tag-SNPs. Associated personality characteristics and psychopathological symptoms were assessed by the EDI-2 and SCL-90R inventories, respectively. No single SNP or haplotype played a relevant role in the risk for AN or BN. The rs16917237 TT genotype was significantly associated with increased weight (74.63 ± 16.58 vs. 57.93 ± 13.02) and body mass index (28.94 ± 6.22 vs. 22.23 ± 4.77) in the BN group after correcting for multiple testing. Haplotype analyses using a sliding window approach with three adjacent SNPs produced four loci of interest. Locus 3 (rs10835210/rs16917237/C-270T) showed a broad impact on the measured psychopathological symptoms. Haplotypes CGC and CGT in this locus correlated with scores in all three scales of the SCL-90R inventory, both in AN and BN patients. In contrast, the results of the EDI-2 inventory were largely unaffected. These preliminary results suggest that variability in the BDNF gene locus may contribute to anthropometric characteristics and also psychopathological symptoms that are common but not exclusive of ED patients.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation, Madrid (Spain) and by grant GR10022 from Junta de Extremadura, Consejeria de Economia, Comercio e Innovacion, Merida (Spain).

We are thankful to the Spanish Genotyping National Centre (CEGEN-ISCIII) in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), headed by Dr. Angel Carracedo, for its technical assistance.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Guillermo Gervasini.

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Gamero-Villarroel, C., Gordillo, I., Carrillo, J.A. et al. BDNF genetic variability modulates psychopathological symptoms in patients with eating disorders. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 23, 669–679 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-013-0495-6

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Keywords

  • BDNF
  • Genetic polymorphism
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorder