A study from Karolinska Institutet, performed in mice, shows that anorexia/self starvation could be associated with genetic defects causing malfunction of the cells power plants, the mitochondria. The study shows that this mitochondrial defect might make the neurons in the feeding center of the brain extra sensitive to oxidative stress, a biochemical reaction caused by free radicals. The researchers observed that these nerve cells are shut down and might even die.

Eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa are serious diseases and little is known about what is causing them. Extensive research has shown that affected individuals seem to have an inborn sensitivity to external stimuli that can trigger the disease, like the current beauty ideal. The cause(s) for this inborn sensitivity has, however, not been discovered yet. The researches may now have found one of the causes.

“We will now investigate if our results are applicable also in anorectic conditions in humans,” says Jeanette Johansen at the Center for Molecular Medicine, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, and one of the researchers behind the study.

For more information, please contact:

PhD Jeanette Johansen
Center for Molecular Medicine, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery
Phone: +46-(0)8-5177 64 02
E-mail: jeanette.johansen@ki.se

Martin Schalling
Professor of medical genetics, especially Neurogenetics Center for Molecular Medicine, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery
E-mail: martin.schalling@ki.se

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Karolinska Institutet is one of the world’s leading medical universities. It accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country’s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. Since 1901 the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.