Eating disorders, gene-environment interactions and the epigenome: Roles of stress exposures and nutritional status.

TitleEating disorders, gene-environment interactions and the epigenome: Roles of stress exposures and nutritional status.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSteiger H, Thaler L
JournalPhysiol Behav
Volume162
Pagination181-5
Date Published2016 Aug 01
ISSN1873-507X
Abstract

Epigenetic mechanisms are believed to link environmental exposures to gene expression, and in so doing, to provide a physical basis for the activation, by life experiences, of mental-health problems. This paper provides a background to the hypothesis that epigenetic mechanisms link life stresses (perinatal, childhood and adult) and effects of malnutrition to the eating disorders (EDs). The paper reviews literature bearing upon the putative link between epigenetic factors and ED development, and examines ways in which epigenetic alterations could account for risk of eating disturbances and commonly associated behavioral and emotional problems. Ultimately, we propose that epigenetic processes provide an intriguing (although hypothetical) biological "platform" upon which ED-relevant effects of perinatal insults, life stresses, and consequences of malnutrition may be registered, and argue that an epigenetically informed understanding may explain why EDs are triggered and maintained by excessive caloric restraint, why they coincide so frequently with mood- and impulse-regulation problems, and why they tend to become increasingly entrenched over time. Finally, we comment on the clinical relevance and implications of an epigenetically informed model of ED etiology.

DOI10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.01.041
Alternate JournalPhysiol. Behav.
PubMed ID26836275

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