The researchers identified that lack of the estrogen-related receptor alpha (ESRRA) gene is linked to anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by food restriction and an irrational fear of gaining weight.
"This work identifies estrogen-related receptor alpha as one of the genes that is likely to contribute to the risk of getting anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa," said Dr. Michael Lutter, lead researcher and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa. "Decreased calorie intake usually motivates animals, including humans, to seek out high-calorie food. These findings suggest that loss of ESRRA activity may disrupt that response," Lutter explained.
Through a series of experiments with genetically engineered mice, Lutter and his team showed that mice without the ESRRA gene have behavioral abnormalities related to eating and social behavior.
In particular, mice without ESRRA showed reduced effort to work for high-fat food when they are hungry. The mice also exhibited impaired social interaction and female mice without the gene showed increased compulsive grooming, which may mimic obsessive-compulsive-type behavior in humans, the researchers noted.
However, according to Lutter, the increasing rate of eating disorders over the past several decades is likely due to social factors, not genetics. "Clearly social factors, particularly the western ideal of thinness, contribute the remaining 'non-genetic' risk," Lutter noted.
The study appeared in the journal Cell Reports.
- » News Central
- » Popular News
- » Latest Health News
- » News Category A-Z (500+)
- » Health News and Press Release
- » News Archive
- » News Photo Gallery
- » Lifestyle and Wellness
- » Health Watch
- » Health In Focus
- » Celebrating Life
- » Breaking Health News
- » News From Other Resources
- » India Special
- » News Video Gallery
- » Medindia Exclusive - Interviews and In depth Reports