Contribution of the serotoninergic system to anxious and depressive traits that may be partially responsible for the phenotypical variability of bulimia nervosa

Marta Ribasés, Fernando Fernández-Aranda, Mònica Gratacòs, Josep M. Mercader, Carolina Casasnovas, Araceli Núñez, Julio Vallejo, Xavier Estivill

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Eating disorders (ED), such as anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN), are complex psychiatric phenotypes influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. We investigated the genetic contribution of four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the serotonin receptor 5HT2C and two sequence variants within the serotonin transporter SLC6A4 to different ED-related psychopathological symptoms in a total sample of 82 ED patients. All patients were diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria and underwent diagnostic and psychopathological assessments by means of structured clinical interviews and rating scales. We detected significant evidence of association between the -995A/-759T/-697C/Cys23 haplotype of the 5HT2C gene and different anxious and depressive subscales of the SCL90-R instrument, that included Somatization (p = 0.029), Obsessive-Compulsiveness (p = 0.021), Depression (p = 0.032), Anxiety (p = 0.004), Hostility (p = 0.028), Phobic Anxiety (p = 0.029) and Paranoid Ideation (p = 0.008), in BN patients. We also observed a strong association between the 5HTTLPR polymorphism of the SLC6A4 gene and Anxiety in the same group of BN patients (p = 0.004). However, no epistatic effects between the 5HT2C and SLC6A4 genes on the different anxious and depressive subscales were observed. Our preliminary data suggest that the serotoninergic system contributes to the different psychopathological symptoms that may be partially responsible for the phenotypical variability within the bulimic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-57
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008



  • 5HT2C
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorders
  • Psychopathological symptoms
  • SLC6A4
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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