Feb 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:19 AM EST

‘Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder’: Cause Discovered Geared Towards Treatment

Mar 18, 2017 10:20 AM EDT


The underlying cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder is due to the absence of a protein called SPRED2, researchers stated. The study has utilized mouse models and found out that the loss of the protein alone causes excessive cleanliness and grooming, which are manifestations of the disorder.

The study was pioneered by Professor Kai Schuh from the Institute of Physiology at Germany together with Julius Maximilians Universität's Department of Psychiatry and Neurology. According to Science Daily, the protein SPRED2 is found in the basal ganglia and the amygdala. In normal body physiology, the so-called protein inhibits an important signal pathway in the brain called Ras/ERK-MAP kinase cascade. Thus, the absence of the protein results from an overactive signal pathway leading to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In the animal sample, administering an inhibitor to attenuate the overactive signal pathway improves the symptoms of the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, the researchers were able to treat the disorder with an antidepressant similar to the standard dose of humans.

Meanwhile as reported by PsychCentral, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is manifested by the preoccupation of exaggerated orderliness and perfectionism. People with this disorder are prone to become angry in scenarios wherein they are not in control of their physical or interpersonal environment. Furthermore, OCD persons may express affections in a controlled fashion but may be uncomfortable with others who are emotionally expressive.

The recent findings between the connection of obsessive-compulsive disorder and Ras/ERK-MAP kinase cascade pave way for new targets in therapy. Surprisingly, drugs that inhibit this pathway are already available and some were already approved for human consumption.

Certain drugs that inhibit Ras/ERK-MAP kinase cascade are used nowadays as anticancer because the cascade is also a trigger factor for neoplasm. The researchers have then stated whether these currently available drugs are effective in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, more clinical tests are needed in order to assess if the benefits will outweigh the risks.

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