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Brain Protein Linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in Mice

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - MedPage Today Action Points

o Explain to interested patients that obsessive-compulsive disorder affects about 2% of the population, but its causes are poorly understood.

o Note that this study suggests a protein in the brain, which plays a role in nerve cell communication, may be implicated in the pathogenesis of the disorder.

o Caution that the research took place in mice and may not fully represent the extent of human obsessive-compulsive disorder.

DURHAM, N.C., Aug. 22 -- The mystery of obsessive-compulsive disorder may be at least partly solved, with a discovery that implicates a structural protein missing in the brains of certain excessively groomed mice.

Mice lacking the protein exhibit excessive grooming to the point of causing skin damage and increased anxiety, characteristics reminiscent of those in human OCD, Guoping Feng, Ph.D., of Duke, and colleagues, reported in the Aug. 23 issue of Nature.

What's more, treatment with fluoxetine (Prozac) alleviates the symptoms, as it does in about half of human OCD patients, Dr. Feng and colleagues found.

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