Contributions of the glucocorticoid receptor polymorphism (Bcl1) and childhood abuse to risk of bulimia nervosa


Steiger, Howard
Bruce, Kenneth
Gauvin, Lise
Groleau, Patricia
Joober, Ridha
Israel, Mimi
Richardson, Jodie
Ng Yin Kin, Francois

Year of Publication: 
Psychiatry Research, Volume 187, Issues 1-2, pp. 193-197.

Current theory suggests bulimia nervosa (BN) may be associated with hereditary susceptibilities triggered by environmental factors. This study proposed that traumatic stress may increase the risk of BN in individuals who are genetically predisposed. It is speculated that the stressful effects of childhood abuse may alter functioning in the hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the main stress-response system of the brain. Further, exposure to traumatic stress has been linked to atypical HPA axis activity in eating disordered and non-eating disordered populations. The participants’ experience of childhood abuse (physical or sexual) and the participants’ variation of the main glucocorticoid receptor (GR) polymorphism (Bcl1) were compared between women with a history of eating disorder and women with no history of eating disorder. Findings replicate the literature indicating an association between the presence of BN and two factors: a low glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity, and exposure to sexual or physical abuse. Authors suggest the results have clinical relevance, and suggest that clinicians be attentive to the possibility of past trauma in bulimic patients and consider both psychotherapeutic and pharmacologic means of therapy.

Type of Publication: 
Journal article
Canadian CW research