Single Brain Receptor May Be Responsible for OCD
A new research study published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal has found a key receptor in mice that could be a possible cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans. This receptor could even provide an opportunity for creating a cure for OCD in the future.
Around 3.3 million people, or roughly 2% of the adult population in the US, have OCD. Common OCD symptoms include obsessive actions and thoughts, such as fear of contamination, images of hurting loved one, and aggressive impulses that overtake an individual’s ability to think clearly. The compulsive actions associated with this disorder can trigger repetitive counting, cleaning, checking locks or stoves, or arranging objects in certain ways. These repeated thoughts and action can significantly interfere with school, work, social interactions, and overall quality of life.
MGluR5 Chemical Receptor & OCD
Neuroscientist researchers at the University of Duke conducted a research study aimed at understanding the mechanism of OCD to develop better treatments. By measuring the neural activity of mice, researchers examined the dorsolateral striatum (DS) part of the brain that encases cells responsible for coordination, striatal projection neurons (SPNs). In mice, the DS part of the brain contains two types of SPN’s that form two distinct pathways: direct and indirect pathways. According to scientists, the direct pathways cause action in the brain, while the indirect pathways restrain activity.
Researchers are studying brain function to find an OCD cure.
After further analysis, researchers revealed that abnormal mice lacking the gene Sapap3 had an overactive pathway associated with repeated actions. Scientists then examined the neural activity of the mice and found a chemical receptor called mGluR5 that was active in mice that possessed OCD symptoms. To test their findings, neuroscientists injected the mice directly with a chemical that was specifically formulated to deactivate mGluR5, and they witnessed OCD symptoms in the mice subside within minutes.
While suppressing the mGluR5 chemical receptor was only done in mice, this breakthrough could lead to finding a potential cure for OCD in humans. Current treatments for OCD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft and Celexa. However, these types of treatments are not a cure for OCD; they simply suppress the symptoms of the condition. This research on OCD could open up doors towards finding a cure for OCD and would provide relief for millions of sufferers.