Immunoglobulin A Dysgammaglobulinemia Is Associated with Pediatric-Onset Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2019 May;29(4):268-275. doi: 10.1089/cap.2018.0043. Epub 2019 Mar 20.


Background: Inflammation and immune dysregulation have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pediatric-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and tic disorders such as Tourette syndrome (TS). Though few replicated studies have identified markers of immune dysfunction in this population, preliminary studies suggest that serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) concentrations may be abnormal in these children with these disorders. Methods: This observational retrospective cohort study, conducted using electronic health records (EHRs), identified 206 children with pediatric-onset OCD and 1024 adults diagnosed with OCD who also had testing for serum levels of IgA. IgA deficiency and serum IgA levels in pediatric OCD were compared with IgA levels from children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; n = 524), tic disorders (n = 157), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; n = 534), anxiety disorders (n = 1206), and celiac disease, a condition associated with IgA deficiency (n = 624). Results: Compared with ASD and anxiety disorder cohorts, the pediatric OCD cohort displayed a significantly higher likelihood of IgA deficiency (OR = 1.93; 95% CI = 1.18-3.16, and OR = 1.98; 95% CI = 1.28-3.06, respectively), though no difference was observed between pediatric OCD and TS cohorts. Furthermore, the pediatric OCD cohort displayed similar rates of IgA deficiency and serum IgA levels when compared with the celiac disease cohort. The pediatric OCD cohort also displayed the highest percentage of IgA deficiency (15%,) when compared with TS (14%), celiac disease (14%), ADHD (13%), ASD (8%), and anxiety disorder (8%) cohorts. When segregated by sex, boys with OCD displayed a significantly higher likelihood of IgA deficiency when compared with all comparison cohorts except for celiac disease and tic disorders; no significant difference in IgA deficiency was observed between female cohorts. Pediatric OCD subjects also displayed significantly lower adjusted serum IgA levels than the ASD and anxiety disorder cohorts. Adults with OCD were also significantly less likely than children with OCD to display IgA deficiency (OR = 2.71; 95% CI = 1.71-4.28). When compared with children with celiac disease, no significant difference in IgA levels or rates of IgA deficiency were observed in the pediatric OCD cohort. Conclusions: We provide further evidence of IgA abnormalities in pediatric-onset OCD. These results require further investigation to determine if these abnormalities impact the clinical course of OCD in children.

Keywords: Tourette syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; autoimmunity; immune deficiency; immunoglobulin A; inflammation; obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dysgammaglobulinemia / epidemiology
  • Dysgammaglobulinemia / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / immunology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / immunology
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors


  • Immunoglobulin A