Monoamine abnormalities in the SAPAP3 knockout model of obsessive-compulsive disorder-related behaviour

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2018 Mar 19;373(1742):20170023. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0023.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a leading cause of illness-related disability, but the neural mechanisms underlying OCD symptoms are unclear. One potential mechanism of OCD pathology is monoamine dysregulation. Because of the difficulty of studying monoamine signalling in patients, animal models offer a viable alternative to understanding this aspect of OCD pathophysiology. We used HPLC to characterize post-mortem monoamine levels in lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), medial OFC, medial prefrontal cortex and dorsal and ventral striatum of SAPAP-3 knockout (KO) mice, a well-validated model of compulsive-like behaviours in OCD. As predicted from previous studies, excessive grooming was significantly increased in SAPAP-3 KO mice. Overall levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (HIAA) and the ratio of 5HIAA/serotonin (serotonin turnover) were increased in all cortical and striatal regions examined. In addition, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid/dopamine ratio was increased in lateral OFC, and HVA/dopamine ratio was increased in lateral and medial OFC. No baseline differences in serotonin or dopamine tissue content were observed. These data provide evidence of monoaminergic dysregulation in a translational model of OCD symptoms and are consistent with aberrant cortical and striatal serotonin and dopamine release/metabolism in SAPAP-3 KO mice. These results are guiding ongoing experiments using circuit and cell-type specific manipulations of dopamine and serotonin to determine the contributions of these monoaminergic systems to compulsive behaviours, and serve here as a touchstone for an expanded discussion of these techniques for precise circuit dissection.This article is part of the discussion meeting issue 'Of mice and mental health: facilitating dialogue between basic and clinical neuroscientists'.

Keywords: HPLC; SAPAP3-KO; basal ganglia; monoamines; obsessive-compulsive disorder; orbitofrontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / metabolism
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Ventral Striatum / metabolism


  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Serotonin

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.h6qm7