Cerebrospinal fluid biogenic amines in obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette's syndrome, and healthy controls

Neuropsychopharmacology. 1995 Feb;12(1):73-86. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1380241.


To examine the role of noradrenergic, dopaminergic, and serotonergic mechanisms in the pathobiology of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette's syndrome (TS), concentrations of tyrosine (TYR), norepinephrine (NE), 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethylene glycol (MHPG), homovanillic acid (HVA), tryptophan (TRP), and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were measured in the lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 39 medication-free OCD patients, 33 medication-free TS patients, and 44 healthy volunteers. CSF TYR concentrations were reduced (p < .05) in the OCD patients compared to the healthy subjects. CSF NE in TS patients was 55% higher than in healthy controls (p < .001) and 35% higher than in OCD patients (p < .001). After covarying for height, CSF HVA levels were reduced (p < .05) in the OCD group compared to TS patients but not compared to the normal volunteers. No mean differences in CSF MHPG, TRP, and 5-HIAA were observed in this study across the three groups. The CSF NE data support the hypothesis that noradrenergic mechanisms are involved in the pathobiology of TS. Alterations in the balance of noradrenergic, dopaminergic, and serotonergic systems are likely involved in the pathobiology of OCD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biogenic Amines / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Tourette Syndrome / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Tourette Syndrome / psychology


  • Biogenic Amines