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Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Genetic Disorders (F Goes, Section Editor)
  • Published:
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Purpose of Review

Genetic factors contribute to the etiology of anorexia nervosa (AN). This review synthesizes the current state of knowledge about the genetic etiology of AN, provides directions for future research, and discusses clinical implications for this research.

Recent Findings

Candidate gene meta-analyses indicate serotonin genes may be involved in the genetic etiology of AN. Three genome-wide association studies have been conducted and one genome-wide significant locus was identified. Cross-disorder analyses suggest shared genetic risk between AN and several psychiatric, educational, and medical phenotypes.


Much has been learned about the genetic etiology of AN over the past 3 decades. However, to fully understand the genetic architecture, we must consider all aspects including common variation, cross-disorder analysis, rare variation, copy number variation, and gene-environment interplay. Findings have important implications for the development of treatment and prevention approaches and for how AN, and psychiatric and medical diseases in general, are conceptualized.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Dr. Baker was supported by grant NIH K01MH106675; Dr. Munn-Chernoff was supported by grant NIH K01AA025113; Dr. Schaumberg was supported by NIH grant T32MH076694 (PI: Cynthia Bulik, PhD).

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Correspondence to Jessica H. Baker.

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Conflict of Interest

Jessica H. Baker, Katherine Schaumberg, and Melissa A. Munn-Chernoff declare no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Genetic Disorders

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Baker, J.H., Schaumberg, K. & Munn-Chernoff, M.A. Genetics of Anorexia Nervosa. Curr Psychiatry Rep 19, 84 (2017).

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