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A new model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

It is possible to induce states similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder even in rats. These models are used for testing of new therapeutic interventions. Read how animal models help medicine.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious psychiatric disorder. Patients suffer from intrusive thoughts (obsessions), and try to avoid them by repeatedly performing various rituals. Both of these two states can take many forms, for example, the fear of infection is often followed by repeated washing hands and fear for safety is followed by counting or checking doors. Animal models, despite their limitations, represent an important tool to study psychiatric disorders. They are essential for development of new methods of treatment. This is because animal models allow us to use many research techniques, which could not be used in patients directly. Long-term administration of the quinpirole (QNP), the substance binding to dopamine receptors, represents one of the pharmacological models of OCD. The peculiarity of this model is similarity between animal behavior and compulsive actions in OCD patients – the model animals show ritualized behavior in open field with embedded objects. The another similarity is the sensitivity to the same type of treatment, in this case model animals (as well as some OCD patients) partially respond to administration of the antidepressant drug clomipramine. Moreover, we found that similar to OCD patients these animals have a difficulty to adapt to changes in environment. In present study we explored if this difficulty to adapt is cured by common OCD treatments. Interestingly, clomipramine impaired animals in learning completely. However, combination of antipsychotic risperidone and antidepressant clomipramine improved ability to adapt to new conditions. This result supports the hypothesis about increasing therapeutic effects because of augmentation of antidepressants with neuroleptics. This combination of drugs would stand for better care of OCD patients.


Hatalova H, Radostova D, Pistikova A, Vales K, Stuchlik A. Detrimental effect of clomipramine on hippocampus- dependent learning in an animal model of obsessive-compulsive disorder induced by sensitization with D2/D3 agonist quinpirole. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Sep 19;317:210-217. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.09.042.