FRIDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- A specific gene variant may explain why eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs) sometimes appear together, Canadian researchers report.
"We've known for some time that there are often high rates of OCD in families with eating disorders and, to some extent, vice versa," Robert Levitan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, said in a prepared statement. "For these individuals, the eating disorder becomes part of the way that their OCD is expressed. What isn't known is what role genetics plays in the relationship between the two disorders."
Levitan and his colleagues conducted a genetic analysis of 165 women with bulimia, aged 16 to 55. The researchers were especially focused on a variant of the serotonin-1B receptor gene G861C, which is known to contribute to OCD. The women were also interviewed to determine if they had full or partial OCD.
The study found that among the 27.3 percent of the women with either full or partial OCD, "the G861C polymorphism provided strong differentiation, with the G allele [form] being associated with the full syndrome and the C allele with the partial," according to a university statement.
"These results tell us that this allele isn't causing obsessive symptoms but working to moderate them," Levitan said. "It may be that another gene is causing OCD, and that this allele works with that gene to affect the syndrome's sensitivity."
The findings appear in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.