A next generation sequencing gene panel for use in the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa

Maria Rachele Ceccarini, Vincenza Precone, Elena Manara, Stefano Paolacci, Paolo Enrico Maltese, Valentina Benfatti, Kristjana Dhuli, Kevin Donato, Giulia Guerri, Giuseppe Marceddu, Pietro Chiurazzi, Laura Dalla Ragione, Tommaso Beccari, Matteo Bertelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The aim of this study was to increase knowledge of genes associated with anorexia nervosa (AN) and their diagnostic offer, using a next generation sequencing (NGS) panel for the identification of genetic variants. The rationale underlying this test is that we first analyze the genes associated with syndromic forms of AN, then genes that were found to carry rare variants in AN patients who had undergone segregation analysis, and finally candidate genes intervening in the same molecular pathways or identified by GWAS or in mouse models. Methods: We developed an NGS gene panel and used it to screen 68 Italian AN patients (63 females, 5 males). The panel included 162 genes. Family segregation study was conducted on available relatives of probands who reported significant genetic variants. Results: In our analysis, we found potentially deleterious variants in 2 genes (PDE11A and SLC25A13) associated with syndromic forms of anorexia and predicted deleterious variants in the following 12 genes: CD36, CACNA1C, DRD4, EPHX2, ESR1, GRIN2A, GRIN3B, LRP2, NPY4R, PTGS2, PTPN22 and SGPP2. Furthermore, by Sanger sequencing of the promoter region of NNAT, we confirmed the involvement of this gene in the pathogenesis of AN. Family segregation studies further strengthened the possible causative role of CACNA1C, DRD4, GRIN2A, PTGS2, SGPP2, SLC25A13 and NNAT genes in AN etiology. Conclusion: The major finding of our study is the confirmation of the involvement of the NNAT gene in the pathogenesis of AN; furthermore, this study suggests that NGS-based testing can play an important role in the diagnostic evaluation of AN, excluding syndromic forms and increasing knowledge of the genetic etiology of AN. Level of evidence: Level I, experimental study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Eating disorders
  • NGS analysis
  • Rare variants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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