Mouse OCD linked to Immune System

A recent study published in Cell magazine has shown that mice who exhibit “excessive grooming behavior,”  which is analogous to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in humans (OCD), can be cured by a bone marrow transplant.  The disorder was linked to deficient immune microglia cells, the street-cleaners of the body (they clear-up cluttery microbes and broken down cellular byproducts).  Healthy-mouse bone marrow was transferred to the OCD mice and within four months they returned to normal grooming patterns.  The gene responsible for healthy microglia – Hox8 – is a vital developmental gene, and it’s connections to observable behavioral patterns, like OCD, are intriguing and will certainly inspire further research.

Audio from the Authors:  Pathological Grooming in Mutant Mice

About the author

Sam McDougle

SAM MCDOUGLE is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His writing has appeared in Vice and The Atlantic.

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9 Comments

  • This article has received a lot of attention and right so in my opinion. It really makes me wonder how many other psychological problems are actually physiological in nature.

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  • I arrived at this article because my pet mouse is a pathological over-groomer. I don’t think I can afford a bone-marrow transplant for him, though…

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