Serotoninergic mechanisms in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

Drug Discov Today. 2008 Apr;13(7-8):325-32. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2007.12.009. Epub 2008 Feb 14.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disabling psychiatric condition affecting 1-2% of the community. Although modern drug, behavioral and psychosurgical therapies have improved the prognosis of OCD considerably, approximately 30% of patients remain treatment-refractory. Currently, selective serotonin (5-HT) reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the drug treatments of choice for OCD. Accordingly, this review evaluates the evidence for a role of the serotonin (5-HT) neurochemical system in the treatment and pathophysiology of OCD. However, drug treatment approaches that modify function of interrelated neurochemical systems, such as the dopamine and glutamate systems, are also briefly discussed as they promise to complement and enhance SSRI treatment effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Glutamates / physiology
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / metabolism
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Glutamates
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Serotonin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Dopamine