Using mice to model Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: From genes to circuits

Neuroscience. 2016 May 3;321:121-137. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.11.009. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a severe, chronic, and highly prevalent psychiatric disorder that affects between 1.5% and 3% of people worldwide. Despite its severity, high prevalence, and clear societal cost, current OCD therapies are only partially effective. In order to ultimately develop improved treatments for this severe mental illness, we need further research to gain an improved understanding of the pathophysiology that underlies obsessions and compulsions. Though studies in OCD patients can provide some insight into the disease process, studies in humans are inherently limited in their ability to dissect pathologic processes because of their non-invasive nature. The recent development of strategies for genetic and circuit-specific manipulation in rodent models finally allows us to identify the molecular, cellular, and circuit events that lead to abnormal repetitive behaviors and affect dysregulation relevant to OCD. This review will highlight recent studies in mouse model systems that have used transgenic and optogenetic tools in combination with classic pharmacology and behavioral techniques to advance our understanding of these pathologic processes.

Keywords: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); animal models; anxiety; basal ganglia; optogenetic; orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / genetics*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology