Consideration of the BDNF Gene in Relation to Two Phenotypes: Hoarding and Obesity

Kiara R. Timpano, Norman B. Schmidt, Michael G. Wheaton, Jens R. Wendland, Dennis L. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The gene coding for the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has emerged as an interesting candidate for multiple brain and brain disorder-related phenomena. The primary aim of the present investigation was to consider the relationship between the BDNF Val66Met variant and two phenotypes: compulsive hoarding as a symptom dimension of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and body mass index (BMI). We examined the BDNF gene in a large (N = 301) clinical sample of probands with OCD. Participants were classified as hoarding or nonhoarding using a strict, multimeasure grouping approach. Results revealed that the Val/Val genotype was linked with hoarding classification and more severe hoarding behaviors, as well as greater BMI levels. Hoarding status was also associated with greater BMI scores, with individuals in the hoarding group being far more likely to be classified as obese compared with the nonhoarding group. Our findings may provide a distinct avenue through which hoarding and BMI could be linked. These findings are suggestive of a complex gene, body weight, and psychopathology relationship wherein a primitive, survival "thrifty gene" strategy may be conserved and represented in a subgroup of humans manifesting severe hoarding symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-707
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Body mass index
  • Brain derived neurotrophic factor gene
  • Hoarding
  • OCD
  • Val66Met SNP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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