A study of biological samples of monozygotic twin sisters (identical) carried out by the Health Research Institute (IIS) La Fe de Valencia has allowed to detect five genes involved in the development of the anorexy nervous.
The finding, carried out by a multidisciplinary research team made up of professionals from psychiatry, epigenetics and biostatistics, will improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of anorexia nervosa.
The team, led by Luis Rojo, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Valencia, together with Juan Sandoval, director of the Epigenetics platform of the IIS La Fe Institute, has had the participation of clinical and biostatistical professionals from the Valencian Community, Castilla -La Mancha and Extremadura.
The goal of this group of researchers was discover the epigenetic bases of anorexia nervosa, one of the eating disorders with the highest mortality among psychiatric pathologies, according to a statement from the Generalitat.
Anorexia nervosa is a public health problem that mainly affects young women and adolescents in developed countries.
Diagnosis is established based solely on clinical criteria, without the existence, to date, of biological, genetic or epigenetic markers.
"This discovery is relevant to elaborate more precise criteria based on epigenetic marks associated with the disease and increase knowledge to implement therapeutic, prevention and early intervention strategies in cases of anorexia nervosa", highlighted Dr. Luis Rojo.
The research, published in the international journal Translational Psychiatry, was based on the study of samples of discordant twin sisters for anorexia nervosa, that is, pairs of identical twins in which one of them suffers from the disorder and the other does not.
"Identical twins can be considered replicas of the same DNA sequence, therefore, studying this population allows an evaluation of the epigenome independently of any variation in the genomic sequence", explained Juan Sandoval.
Five genes involved
This work found various genes implicated in anorexia nervosa, specifically PPP2R2C, CHST1, SYNJ2, JAM3 and UBAP2L, and the first two have been associated with the metabolic trait of type 2 diabetes.
According to sources, type 2 diabetes and abnormalities in insulin secretion and blood glucose levels have been linked to anorexia nervosa.
For their part, the UBAP2L and SYNJ2 genes have been related to bipolar disorder and the initiation of cannabis use, respectively.
The Psychiatric comorbidities are very common in anorexia nervosa and include disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality or substance abuse disorders.
For this, an exhaustive evaluation of differences in the DNA methylation profile in monozygotic twins discordant for anorexia nervosa using a genome-wide approach, subsequently validating the findings in a sample of familial unrelated anorexia patients.
The synergy between psychiatry, epigenetics and biostatistics has made it possible to discover these new epigenetic marks associated with an eating disorder that affects one in every hundred adolescents -mostly women, but can also occur in men- and that begins between the ages of 12 and the 18 years.
It has been seen that, although the twins share the same DNA, epigenetic differences may appear and therefore suffer from different diseases throughout their lives.