Brain Circuits Link Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior and Obesity

What started as an experiment to probe brain circuits involved in compulsive behavior has revealed a surprising connection with obesity.

The University of Iowa-led researchers bred mice missing a gene known to cause obesity, and suspected to also be involved in compulsive behavior, with a genetic mouse model of compulsive grooming. The unexpected result was offspring that were neither compulsive groomers nor obese.

The study, published the week of June 10 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggests that the brain circuits that control obsessive-compulsive behavior are intertwined with circuits that control food intake and body weight. The findings have implications for treating compulsive behavior, which is associated with many forms of psychiatric disease, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette syndrome, and eating disorders.

UI neuro-psychiatrists Michael Lutter, M.D., Ph.D. and Andrew Pieper, M.D., Ph.D., led the study. The team also included researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School.

Full story of brain circuits involving obesity and OCD at Science Daily

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