WORCESTER, Mass. A collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has identified a genetic locus on canine chromosome 7 which coincides with an increased risk of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) susceptibility. The findings, published in the January 2010 edition of Molecular Psychiatry, suggest that particular genetic proteins may possibly influence central nervous system development and increase the risk of OCD.
Characterized by time-consuming, repetitive behaviors, OCD affects roughly 2 percent of humans. Meanwhile, the equally distressing canine equivalent, canine compulsive disorder (CCD), is more prevalent in certain dog breeds, especially Dobermans and Bull Terriers.
For more than a decade, animal behaviorists Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, professor of clinical sciences, and Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD, clinical assistant professor, at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts, collected blood samples from carefully characterized Doberman patients exhibiting flank- and/or blanket-sucking compulsive behaviors, as well as healthy, unaffected Dobermans. In 2001, Edward Ginns, MD, PhD, director of the Program in Medical Genetics at UMass Medical School, joined the effort, enabling genetic studies that culminated in the genome wide association study that began in 2007 using the canine Affymetrix genotyping array at the Broad Institute.
The chromosome 7 location most significantly associated with CCD is located within the neural cadherin-2 gene, CDH2. CDH2 is widely expressed, mediating synaptic activity-calcium flux related neuronal adhesion. Dogs showing multiple compulsive behaviors had a higher frequency of the "risk" associated DNA sequence than dogs with a less severe phenotype (60 and 43 percent, respectively, compared with 22 percent in unaffected dogs)
|Contact: Jim Fessenden|
University of Massachusetts Medical School