Recent research on Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN) has shown an increasing understanding of the biological and physiological abnormalities that underlie the development of an eating disorder. Cultural pressures, individual and family experiences, along with physiological and genetic systems all appear to contribute to the onset of these disorders. There is significant evidence for genetic factors in the susceptibility of AN/BN, however current research has focused on the possibly of characterizing eating disorders as being an autoimmune disease. Autoantibodies have recently been discovered in patients with eating disorders and could be affecting the biological pathway of many hormones, specifically a-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, by various mechanisms. Also these autoAbs have been associated with physiological traits which also have been proven to be symptoms of eating disorders. The origin of these autoAbs remains to be established. Yet childhood viral infections and gut microflora may provide two explanations for the creation of autoAbs. Future research needs to examine the direction of causation, the underlying mechanism of the immune response, and if this could be contributed to the development of AN/BN. Although there have been substantially advances in the knowledge of eating disorders, the goal of offering effective treatment to all patients remains elusive.
Eukaryon is published by students at Lake Forest College, who are solely responsible for its content. The views expressed in Eukaryon do not necessarily reflect those of the College. Articles published within Eukaryon should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.