Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Towards Better Understanding and Outcomes

Kenneth C. Kirkby


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2003;16(1) 

In This Article


Notwithstanding the clear familial loading in OCD and evidence from segregation analyses suggesting a single major locus in OCD, the underlying genetics of the disorder require further attention. Hanna et al.[21**] report a genome-wide scan on 56 individuals from 7 families ascertained through paediatric probands, early onset being associated with higher familiality. Weak positive results on chromosome 9 emphasize the need for larger samples but will guide further investigations. In a complementary vein, Albert et al.[22**] compared the phenomena in OCD with and without a familial component, finding no significant difference in the features of the illness. This reinforces the need to consider other distinguishing features, such as age of onset, when attempting to collect high genetic loading samples. Life events prior to onset were reported as more common and more severe in the group with low familial loading, which fits with a lower genetic predisposition. Alsobrook[23**] studied the polymorphism of catechol-O-methyltransferase previously reported to be associated with OCD in males and did not support this, finding only a weak association in females in a post-hoc analysis. Further work is reported in a region of interest on chromosome 9 containing the gene SLC1A1, which codes for the neuronal and epithelial glutamate transporter excitatory amino acid carrier 1.[24*] Overall these genetic and familial studies emphasize how complex the field of behavioural and complex disease genetics is, though one where progress can be anticipated.


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