Current animal models of obsessive compulsive disorder: an update

Neuroscience. 2012 Jun 1:211:83-106. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.08.070. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


During the last 30 years there have been many attempts to develop animal models of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), in the hope that they may provide a route for furthering our understanding and treatment of this disorder. The present review provides the reader with an overview of the currently active animal models of OCD, their strengths and limitations, so that the reader can use the review as a guide for establishing new animal models of OCD, evaluating existing animal models and choosing among them according to one's needs. We review current genetic, pharmacological, neurodevelopmental and behavioral animal models of OCD, and evaluate their face validity (derived from phenomenological similarity between the behavior in the animal model and the specific symptoms of the human condition), predictive validity (derived from similarity in response to treatment) and construct validity (derived from similarity in the underlying mechanisms [physiological or psychological]). On the basis of this evaluation we discuss the usefulness of the different models for screening drugs for anti-compulsive activity, detecting new targets for high frequency stimulation, studying the neural mechanisms of OCD and unraveling the role of gonadal hormones. We then describe potential new treatment strategies that emerge from the convergence of data obtained in different models on the one hand, and how different models can be used to model different subtypes or dimensions of OCD, on the other hand.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Drug Discovery / methods
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / chemically induced
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / genetics
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder* / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results