This application is in response to PA-07-126 """"""""Women's Mental Health and Sex/Gender Differences Research."""""""" The PA calls for studies of neurobiological, sex hormone, and genetic factors contributing to sex differences in the prevalence and etiology of mental disorders. Bulimic syndromes are much more prevalent in women than men and may exhibit genetic influence only after sex hormone activation. The long-term objective of this project therefore is to identify a novel set of neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to genetic influences on bulimic syndromes in women.
The specific aims are to examine: 1) phenotypic relationships between changes in ovarian hormone levels and changes in disordered eating across the menstrual cycle in a large sample of female twins;and 2) whether a common set of genetic factors underlie associations between ovarian hormones and binge eating. Participants will include 590 same-sex female twins recruited through birth records in Michigan. Structured clinical interviews will be administered to assess eating disorders and other Axis I disorders. Daily salivary hormone samples and behavioral measures of binge eating and mood symptoms will be collected for 45 days. Radioimmunoassay will be used to analyze estradiol, and enzymeimmunoassay will be used to analyze progesterone. Dynamical systems models will examine the extent to which changes in ovarian hormones predict changes in binge eating across the menstrual cycle. Genetic mediation of these phenotypic associations will be examined by incorporating twin pair information into analyses using bivariate and multivariate genetic models. The proposed set of studies follow recommendations of Becker et al. (2005) to use naturalistic, longitudinal studies across the menstrual cycle to establish associations between ovarian hormones and binge eating before attempting experimental designs in humans. We propose to extend this approach by examining whether these naturalistic associations have a genetic component. Findings from our multi-method studies have the potential to significantly increase understanding of the causes of bulimic syndromes in women by seeking the underlying neurobiological mechanisms contributing to their genetic diathesis. Greater insight into etiological mechanisms will narrow the search for candidate genes and contribute to improved treatment and prevention of these disorders.

Public Health Relevance

Bulimic syndromes are significant mental health problems that preferentially afflict late adolescent and young adult women. The pronounced psychiatric and medical morbidity associated with these disorders underscore their public health significance and the need to understand their development. Greater insight into neurobiological mechanisms will narrow the search for candidate genes and contribute to improved treatment and prevention of these disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
Chavez, Mark
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Michigan State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
East Lansing
United States
Zip Code
Klump, Kelly L; Culbert, Kristen M; O'Connor, Shannon et al. (2017) The significant effects of puberty on the genetic diathesis of binge eating in girls. Int J Eat Disord 50:984-989
Racine, Sarah E; VanHuysse, Jessica L; Keel, Pamela K et al. (2017) Eating disorder-specific risk factors moderate the relationship between negative urgency and binge eating: A behavioral genetic investigation. J Abnorm Psychol 126:481-494
O'Connor, Shannon M; Beam, Christopher R; Luo, Xiaochen et al. (2017) Genetic and environmental associations between body dissatisfaction, weight preoccupation, and binge eating: Evidence for a common factor with differential loadings across symptom type. Int J Eat Disord 50:157-161
Klump, Kelly L; O'Connor, Shannon M; Hildebrandt, Britny A et al. (2016) Differential Effects of Estrogen and Progesterone on Genetic and Environmental Risk for Emotional Eating in Women. Clin Psychol Sci 4:895-908
Hu, Yueqin; Nesselroade, John R; Erbacher, Monica K et al. (2016) Test Reliability at the Individual Level. Struct Equ Modeling 23:532-543
O'Connor, Shannon M; Burt, S Alexandra; VanHuysse, Jessica L et al. (2016) What drives the association between weight-conscious peer groups and disordered eating? Disentangling genetic and environmental selection from pure socialization effects. J Abnorm Psychol 125:356-68
Luo, Xiaochen; Donnellan, M Brent; Burt, S Alexandra et al. (2016) The dimensional nature of eating pathology: Evidence from a direct comparison of categorical, dimensional, and hybrid models. J Abnorm Psychol 125:715-26
Culbert, Kristen M; Breedlove, S Marc; Sisk, Cheryl L et al. (2015) Age differences in prenatal testosterone's protective effects on disordered eating symptoms: developmental windows of expression? Behav Neurosci 129:18-36
Klump, K L; Hildebrandt, B A; O'Connor, S M et al. (2015) Changes in genetic risk for emotional eating across the menstrual cycle: a longitudinal study. Psychol Med 45:3227-37
Racine, Sarah E; Burt, S Alexandra; Keel, Pamela K et al. (2015) Examining associations between negative urgency and key components of objective binge episodes. Int J Eat Disord 48:527-31

Showing the most recent 10 out of 28 publications