Animal models of obsessive-compulsive disorder: exploring pharmacology and neural substrates

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Jan;36(1):47-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 Apr 15.


During the last 30 years there have been many attempts to develop animal models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Most models have not been studied further following the original publication, and in the past few years, most papers present studies employing a few established animal models, exploring the neural basis of compulsive behavior and developing new treatment strategies. Here we summarize findings from the five most studied animal models of OCD: 8-OHDPAT (8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)-tetralin hydrobromide) induced decreased alternation, quinpirole-induced compulsive checking, marble burying, signal attenuation and spontaneous stereotypy in deer mice. We evaluate each model's face validity, derived from similarity between the behavior in the model and the specific symptoms of the human condition, predictive validity, derived from similarity in response to treatment (pharmacological or other), and construct validity, derived from similarity in the mechanism (physiological or psychological) that induces behavioral symptoms and in the neural systems involved. We present ideas regarding future clinical research based on each model's findings, and on this basis, also emphasize possible new approaches for the treatment of OCD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / etiology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / pathology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / therapy
  • Quinpirole / therapeutic use
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Hormones
  • Quinpirole
  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin