Mapping anorexia nervosa genes to clinical phenotypes

Jessica S. Johnson, Alanna C. Cote, Amanda Dobbyn, Laura G. Sloofman, Jiayi Xu, Liam Cotter, Alexander W. Charney, Andreas Birgegård, Jennifer Jordan, Martin Kennedy, Mikaél Landén, Sarah L. Maguire, Nicholas G. Martin, Preben Bo Mortensen, Laura M. Thornton, Cynthia M. Bulik, Laura M. Huckins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a psychiatric disorder with complex etiology, with a significant portion of disease risk imparted by genetics. Traditional genome-wide association studies (GWAS) produce principal evidence for the association of genetic variants with disease. Transcriptomic imputation (TI) allows for the translation of those variants into regulatory mechanisms, which can then be used to assess the functional outcome of genetically regulated gene expression (GReX) in a broader setting through the use of phenome-wide association studies (pheWASs) in large and diverse clinical biobank populations with electronic health record phenotypes. Methods Here, we applied TI using S-PrediXcan to translate the most recent PGC-ED AN GWAS findings into AN-GReX. For significant genes, we imputed AN-GReX in the Mount Sinai BioMe™ Biobank and performed pheWASs on over 2000 outcomes to test the clinical consequences of aberrant expression of these genes. We performed a secondary analysis to assess the impact of body mass index (BMI) and sex on AN-GReX clinical associations. Results Our S-PrediXcan analysis identified 53 genes associated with AN, including what is, to our knowledge, the first-genetic association of AN with the major histocompatibility complex. AN-GReX was associated with autoimmune, metabolic, and gastrointestinal diagnoses in our biobank cohort, as well as measures of cholesterol, medications, substance use, and pain. Additionally, our analyses showed moderation of AN-GReX associations with measures of cholesterol and substance use by BMI, and moderation of AN-GReX associations with celiac disease by sex. Conclusions Our BMI-stratified results provide potential avenues of functional mechanism for AN-genes to investigate further.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2619-2633
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2023


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • EHR
  • PrediXcan
  • pheWAS
  • transcriptomic imputation


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