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Brain Protein Linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in Mice

Brain Protein Linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in Mice

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.

The finding was serendipitous, the researchers said, because they were simply trying to understand the function of brain proteins known as SAPAP, including SAPAP3, which plays a role in the glutamate chemical messenger system.

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