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Neurobiology and COgnition in eating disorders: a high-Risk Eating disorder offspring study (eNCORE)

English title Neurobiology and COgnition in eating disorders: a high-Risk Eating disorder offspring study (eNCORE)
Applicant Micali Nadia
Number 182484
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Service de psychiatrie enfant et adolescent Département universitaire de psychiatrie Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Neurology, Psychiatry
Start/End 01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022
Approved amount 700'000.00
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Keywords (3)

offspring; eating disorders; neurobiology

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
I disturbi del comportamento alimentare (DCA) sono disturbi mentali comuni e cronici che insorgono in un periodo cruciale dello sviluppo, i. e. l’ adolescenza. Di conseguenza, la prevenzione, l’intervento precoce e lo sviluppo di nuove terapie sono essenziali. Studi scientifici mostrano che i DCA sono causati da fattori di rischio genetici e ambientali, e che aspetti neuro-biologici contribuiscono alla loro insorgenza e alla cronicita’ della malattia. Tuttavia, non sono chiari gli endofenotipi che contribuiscono ai DCA. Questo progetto si incentrata principalmente su una investigazione della modalita’ con cui i DCA si sviluppano.
Lay summary

Contenuti e obiettivi del progetto di ricerca

Studi sul cervello e comportamentamentali nei DCA hanno identificato diversi fattori cerebrali e cognitivi, osservati principalmente in pazienti con DCA nello stato acuto paragonati ad individui sani. Sfortunatamente questi studi non indicano se tali caratteristiche siano presenti gia’ prima dell'insorgenza del DCA. Tale aspetto e’ problematico, in quanto i DCA hanno un considerevole impatto sul metabolismo e sull’anatomia cerebrale e sule funzioni cognitive. Un modo per comprendere se le caratteristiche cerebrali e cognitive osservate nei pazienti, in stadio attivo della malattia, rappresentino elementi reali di vulnerabilità è quello di studiare i figli di genitori che presentano tali disturbi (in quanto parenti di primo grado e dunque geneticamente a rischio, ma che non necessariamente svilupperano tali disturbi). Gli obiettivi principali di questo studio sono l’investigazione di marcatori neurocognitivi e cerebrali associati ai DCA in figlie di madri con DCA (in assenza di sintomi della malattia).

 

Contesto scientifico e sociale del progetto di ricerca

Questo progetto e’ basato su risultati di studi da noi condotti precedentemente e si configura come progetto di ricerca clinico. Proponiamo, per la comprensione di biomarcatori effettivi dei DCA, di studiare una popolazione asintomatica ad alto rischio.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 04.10.2018

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Abstract

Background and rationale: Eating disorders (ED) are chronic severe psychiatric disorders, affecting about 10-20% of adolescents/young adults. Despite advances in our understanding of risk mechanisms, treatment options for ED remain limited and have variable efficacy. ED are highly heritable, and first-degree relatives are at increased risk, but the neural basis for this risk remains unknown. Evidence that neurocognition and neural mechanisms are relevant to the development of ED is increasing. However it remains to be ascertained whether the differences in cognition and brain structure and function observed in actively ill or recovered patients are true risk markers rather than correlates or scars of illness. This affects the development of novel treatment and prevention approaches. To date no high-risk offspring studies have been carried out in the field, apart from studies carried out by our team. In particular, we have just completed pilot data collection (neurocognitive, and some neuroimaging data) for a high-risk ED offspring study, providing an ideal foundation upon which the proposed project will be based.Objectives and Specific aims: The overall objective of this study is to identify neurocognitive and neural markers of ED amongst young female high-risk ED offspring (prior to onset of illness). Our specific aims, based on preliminary findings and evidence from the literature, entail studying executive function (cognitive flexibility, cognitive control, and working memory), social cognition and their neural basis in high-risk ED female offspring and age- and puberty-matched controls. Given potential differences according to ED-diagnosis, we will explore differences in offspring at high-risk for anorexia vs. bulimia nervosa. To achieve our aims we will employ a range of techniques, including neuropsychological tasks, electroencephalography (EEG) and brain imaging. Methods: We will recruit 50 female high-risk ED offspring aged 10-15 years and 50 age- and puberty-matched offspring of healthy mothers. We propose to use: a set of tasks assessing neurocognition (cognitive control, cognitive flexibility, and spatial working memory) and social cognition; high-density EEG to assess cognitive brain function (cognitive flexibility and spatial working memory); and a brief neuroimaging session to investigate brain structure, functional and structural connectivity. Groups will be compared using appropriate statistical methods.Expected results and impact: This will be the first study, following our pilot, to investigate high-risk ED offspring using multi-modal brain imaging techniques and neurocognition, as such we believe this project has high potential to advance the field of ED research. This study is likely to, firstly, clarify the role of cognitive and neural characteristics as risk markers for ED; secondly, to improve our understanding of endophenotypes/ intermediate phenotypes; thirdly, in the medium term to provide potential targets for prevention and early intervention. Resulting impact will occur on the scientific community, teaching and training (at several levels), on public health, and clinically.
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