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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Is Familial

l. "It's possible that altered glutamate activity in some brain regions may contribute to the obsessions and compulsions that are the hallmark of OCD."

Hanna and colleague Edwin Cook, Jr., M.D., of UIC together lead a major study of OCD genetics involving patients and their families who are willing to donate DNA samples and be interviewed by researchers. The study is still seeking OCD patients and their parents to participate in further research on the genetics of OCD.

While the new findings are exciting because they strengthen the evidence for glutamate's role in OCD vulnerability, the researchers caution that more work needs to be done before their discovery has any impact on OCD treatment.

Four years ago, the U-M and UIC team published a genome scan from young OCD patients and their parents that found signs of OCD-related genetic variations on chromosome 9, in the area of SLC1A1.

Since that time, they have been zeroing in on the gene and its nearby stretches of DNA, using analyses of single nucleotide polymorphisms that look at specific differences between individuals within the gene. At the same time, the Toronto group has been focusing on that same area in studies involving adults and children with OCD and their close relatives.

The new U-M, UC and UIC paper is based on genetic samples from 71 OCD patients (children and adults) and their parents. It finds a significant association between early-onset OCD and genetic variations at several sites on the SLC1A1 gene. A strong association at two of those sites was only seen in male early-onset OCD patients, which surprised the researchers but may make sense in light of the fact that early-onset OCD is more common in boys than in girls. As many as half of all OCD patients experience their first symptoms in childhood or adolescence.

The new U-T paper is based on data from 157 OCD patients and 319 of their first-degree relatives. It finds linkages
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