Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative: An Update

BY: Jessica Baker, PhD

DATE: 30 August 2017

It’s been awhile since we posted an update about the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Imitative (ANGI), so this post is well overdue! As a reminder, ANGI is an international research effort, partnered with research teams here at UNC and in Denmark, Sweden, and Australia (with help from New Zealand), aimed at new discoveries about the genetics of anorexia nervosa (AN). Specifically, the goal of ANGI is to identify specific genetic loci that are involved in AN. From research spanning the decades, we know that genes play an important role in the risk for AN (Trace et al., 2013). However, we we are only beginning to discover which specific genes are involved in increasing the risk for AN.

ANGI was designed to recruit over 13,000 individuals with current or past AN as well as individuals with no history of an eating disorder across all of the participating countries. We ended recruitment in the summer of 2016 and we exceeded our goal! In the end, 13,148 individuals with a current or past  AN (i.e., “cases”) and 9,327 individuals with no history of an eating disorder (i.e., “controls”) were included in ANGI. How does this breakdown by country?

USA: 1,419 cases and 1523 controls

Denmark: 4,920 cases and 3,769 controls

Sweden: 4,118 cases and 4,035 controls

Australia and New Zealand: 2,691 cases


Individuals who participated in ANGI provided clinical information and blood samples. It is from this information we are able to explore whether there are specific genes that may increase risk for the development of AN. This is done by comparing over a million markers across the genome of individuals with AN and individuals without an eating disorder to see where differences lie. We estimate that by early 2018 we will have data analysis complete and the scientific paper submitted for publication by spring 2018. So, by this time next year we hope to have another update for you about what the results were from the ANGI study. We are definitely on the fast track to becoming an amazing resource to help decode the genetic code of AN.

Finally, the ANGI team wanted to express a big THANK YOU once again to everyone who has been involved in our study thus far, whether it be through participating in our study or passing on the word. We could not have done this without all of you!

Trace, S.E., Baker, J.H., Peñas-Lledó E, Bulik, C.M. (2013). The genetics of eating disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 589-620.