Eating disorders: gene with a pronounced influence on the regulation of body weight
According to experts, eating disorders are among the most common chronic mental disorders in adulthood. The development of such a disease usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. The best known is anorexia. A certain gene probably has a strong influence on this, as researchers now report.
A new study looked at participants affected by anorexia or obesity. Researchers have noticed a gene that may have a pronounced influence on body weight regulation, especially in men. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
Pronounced influence especially in men
Of the three forms of eating disorders, binge eating is the most common, followed by bulimia. The best-known form, anorexia, is the least common, explains the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) on the portal “Eating Disorders”.
In addition to various environmental factors, genes also influence the likelihood of developing an eating disorder. According to a recent report, scientists from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) examined almost 200 people tested who either had anorexia nervosa or were extremely overweight.
By comparing the genetic markers, they noticed one gene in particular, of which 25 variants could be identified: the PTBP2 gene. According to experts, this gene may have a pronounced influence on the regulation of body weight, especially in men.
It’s not a single gene that decides
“PTBP2 appears to affect body weight and anorexia in equal measure,” says Professor Dr. Anke Hinney, Head of the Department of Molecular Genetics Research at the Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and psychotherapy at the LVR clinic in Essen.
As the expert explains, a previous study showed that the expression of PTBP2 is higher in obese (obese) patients than in normal weight controls.
The researchers conclude that PTBP2 interacts with many other genes crucial for the regulation of body weight. The authors suspect that PTBP2 may also play a more important role in men, as more variants are relevant to weight regulation in men than in women.
Yiran Zheng, a doctoral student in molecular genetics, points out that there is no direct link between the genetic changes described and the development of an eating disorder.
“It’s not determined by a single gene. But we know that anorexia nervosa, i.e. anorexia, and high BMI are highly inherited. Therefore, PTBP2 is another starting point to allow us to take a closer look at the genetic factors,” the scientist explains.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
University of Duisburg-Essen: Eating Disorder Studies: Genes Influence Weight and Anorexia, (Accessed: July 3, 2022), University of Duisburg-EssenYiran Zheng, Luisa Sophie Rajcsanyi, Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Jochen Seitz, Martina de Zwaan, Wolfgang Herzog, Stefan Ehrlich, Stephan Zipfel, Katrin Giel, Karin Egberts, Roland Burghardt, Manuel Föcker, Saad Al-Lahham, Triinu Peters, Lars Libuda, Jochen Antel, Johannes Hebebrand, Anke Hinney: PTBP2 – a gene relevant to anorexia nervosa and regulation of body weight; in: Translational Psychiatry, (published: June 9, 2022), Translational PsychiatryFederal Center for Health Education: How common are Eating Disorders?, (accessed: July 3, 2022), Eating Disorders
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.