OBJECTIVE: To review the recent literature relevant to genetic research in eating disorders and to discuss unique issues which are crucial for the development of a genetic research project in eating disorders in Brazil. METHOD: A computer literature review was conducted in the Medline database between 1984 and may 2005 with the search terms "eating disorders", "anorexia nervosa", "bulimia nervosa", "binge eating disorder", "family", "twin" and "molecular genetic" studies. RESULTS: Current research findings suggest a substantial influence of genetic factors on the liability to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Genetic research with admixed populations should take into consideration sample size, density of genotyping and population stratification. Through admixture mapping it is possible to study the genetic structure of admixed human populations to localize genes that underlie ethnic variation in diseases or traits of interest. CONCLUSIONS: The development of a major collaborative genetics initiative of eating disorders in Brazil and South America would represent a realistic possibility of studying the genetics of eating disorders in the context of inter ethnic groups, and also integrate a new perspective on the biological etiology of eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa; Bulimia nervosa; Eating disorders; Genetics; Molecular genetics