The genetics of binge-eating disorder (BED) is an emerging topic, with dopaminergic genes being implicated in its etiology due to the role that dopamine (DA) plays in food reward sensitivity and self-regulation of eating behavior. However, no study to date has examined if DA genes influence response to behavioral treatment of BED.
The primary objective of this study was to examine the ability of DA-associated polymorphisms to predict BED treatment response measured using binge frequency over 12 months. As secondary objectives, this study examined cross-sectional relationships between these polymorphisms and anthropometrics in women living with and without BED and obesity.
Women aged 18–64 years old were genotyped for the DA-related SNPs DRD2/ANKK1 Taq1A (rs1800497) and COMT (rs4680), as well as the DA-related uVNTRs DAT-1 (SLC6A3) and MAO-A. A multi-locus DA composite score was formed from these 4 polymorphisms using genotypes known to have a functional impact resulting in modified DA signaling. Binge frequency (Eating Disorder Examination – Interview) and body composition (Tanita BC-418) were assessed in a pre-post analysis to examine genetic predictors of treatment response in women living with obesity and BED. Secondary data analysis was conducted on a cross-sectional comparison of three groups of women enrolled in trial group treatment for BED: women living with obesity and BED (n = 72), obesity without BED (n = 27), and normal-weight without BED (n = 45).
There were no significant genotype × time interactions related to anthropometrics or binge frequency for any individual DA genotypes, or to the composite score reflecting DA availability. At baseline, there were no significant between-group differences in frequencies of DA-related alleles, nor were there associations between genotypes and anthropometrics.
Our study found no evidence to suggest that the DRD2/ANKK1 Taq1A, COMT, MAO-A, or DAT-1 polymorphisms are associated with response to behavioral intervention for BED as measured by changes in binge frequency. Future studies should examine a greater variety of dopaminergic polymorphisms, other candidate genes that target other neurotransmitter systems, as well as examine their impact on both behavioral and pharmacological-based treatment for BED.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute