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Gene indicates obsessive-compulsive syndrome in dogs

Pressmeddelande   •   Dec 28, 2009 12:31 CET

Uppsala University researcher Kerstin Lindblad-Toh has contributed to the new discovery of a gene that indicates obsessive-compulsive syndrome in dogs. The study is being published today in the prestigious journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In the study, the scientists identified a risk gene for the occurrence of obsessive-compulsive syndrome in Doberman dogs. Researchers from Uppsala University have been collaborating with colleagues from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and from Tufts University.

People with compulsive syndrome repeat entirely normal behaviors, such as washing their hands in a compulsive manner. Obsessive-compulsive syndrome also occurs in dogs, where Doberman dogs often lick a rag or themselves incessantly, while bull terriers chase their own tail. The worse the disease is, the more often the dog licks itself, sometimes even causing skin wounds.

“Since it’s hard to find genes that cause psychiatric disorders in people, it’s truly exciting that we were able to find an important gene in dogs so easily,” says Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, a professor at Uppsala University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who directed the genetic work in the study.

The scientists compared the genes of 90 dogs with obsessive-compulsive syndrome and 70 healthy dogs and found that the sick dogs have a special gene variant in a specific area in the DNA. This site contains a vital gene. It is called cadherin 2 and is found in the brain. The protein that is formed from this gene occurs in synapses and helps transmit signals from one nerve cell to another.

“We are now eager to examine whether the corresponding gene can cause obsessive-compulsive syndrome in humans, and we want to try to understand how this gene can cause the disorder,” says Kerstin Lindblad-Toh.

Read the article Dodman et al. A canine chromosome 7 locus confers compulsive disorder susceptibility. Molecular Psychiatry 2009. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.111

 

For more information please contact: Professor Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, +1 617 322 7476 eller kersli@broadinstitute.org

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