Eating disorders – Nilsson

The research of our team is focused on the Neurobiology eating disorders, in particular Anorexia Nervosa. Eating disorders are serious psychiatric disorders characterized by persistent problems concerning food intake, often combined with preoccupation about body weight and shape. Currently effective pharmacological or other biological target-directed therapy are lacking, in large due to the fact that the biology behind how these disorders develop and are perpetuated is unknown. This is illustrated by the high chronicity (10-20%) and mortality of Anorexia Nervosa (10%). Anorexia Nervosa is in fact the most lethal of the psychiatric disorders. Approximately 1% of women and 0,1% of men are affected by Anorexia Nervosa some time throughout life. Almost twice as many are affected by Bulimia Nervosa. In addition, it has been estimated that 10-20% of all women display abnormal eating behavior and/or have a complicated relation to food, without being diagnosed with an eating disorder.

We know that those that are affected seem to have a hereditary sensitivity to external stimuli, often dieting, triggering the disorder. In fact, 50-80% of the background of Anorexia Nervosa is attributed to genetic factors.

Food intake and self-starvation are central problems in Anorexia Nervosa. It is hard to grasp how the bodies of individuals with AN are able to defend extremely low weights for such a long time, commonly for years and sometimes to the point of death. A large proportion of our research is subsequently focused on the mechanisms in the brain controlling appetite and energy balance. These mechanisms are centered to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus receives signals about energy status from the periphery, such as circulating leptin and insulin levels, and transforms this information to an appropriate response – to eat or not to eat.

The overall goal for our group is to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in hypothalamic regulation of food intake, in particular in relation to anorexia, this in order to offer new target molecules that may assist in the development of evidence based clinical practice and promote individualized therapy of eating disorders.


If you would like to support this area of research you could do that by using the following accounts:

BG 628-4418
PG 514114-8
State: Ida Nilsson

If you are outside of Sweden, please use the following information:

Bank: SEB, Stockholm, Sweden
Account No. 5201-11 370 12
Iban-number: SE16 5000 0000 0520 1113 7012
Bic-code (the bank´s electronic address): ESSESESS
Account holder: Center for Molecular Medicine Foundation
L8:05, Karolinska University Hospital
171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

CMM Research Groups




Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases