Severity of eating disorder symptoms related to oxytocin receptor polymorphisms in anorexia nervosa

Summer F. Acevedo, Celeste Valencia, Michael Lutter, Carrie J. McAdams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Oxytocin is a peptide hormone important for social behavior and differences in psychological traits have been associated with variants of the oxytocin receptor gene in healthy people. We examined whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) correlated with clinical symptoms in women with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and healthy comparison (HC) women. Subjects completed clinical assessments and provided DNA for analysis. Subjects were divided into four groups: HC, subjects currently with anorexia nervosa (AN-C), subjects with a history of anorexia nervosa but in long-term weight recovery (AN-WR), and subjects with bulimia nervosa (BN). Five SNPs of the oxytocin receptor were examined. Minor allele carriers showed greater severity in most of the psychiatric symptoms. Importantly, the combination of having had anorexia and carrying either of the A alleles for two SNPS in the OXTR gene (rs53576, rs2254298) was associated with increased severity specifically for ED symptoms including cognitions and behaviors associated both with eating and appearance. A review of psychosocial data related to the OXTR polymorphisms examined is included in the discussion. OXTR polymorphisms may be a useful intermediate endophenotype to consider in the treatment of patients with anorexia nervosa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-648
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 30 2015


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorders
  • Oxytocin
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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