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CNS Spectr. 2005 Mar;10(3):191-202.

Psychostimulant-induced behavior as an animal model of obsessive-compulsive disorder: an ethological approach to the form of compulsive rituals.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.


Rats treated chronically with the D2/D3 dopamine receptor agonist quinpirole show a pattern of behavior that meets a set of ethologically derived criteria of compulsive behavior in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Moreover, in both quinpirole-treated rats and OCD patients, the structure of compulsive rituals appear similar in being composed of relatively few motor acts that are organized in a flexible yet recurrent manner. In addition, the development of compulsive behavior in quinpirole-treated rats is attenuated by the OCD pharmacotherapeutic drug clomipramine. These similarities support the validity of quinpirole-treated rats as a psychostimulant-induced animal model of OCD. Considering that the induction of compulsive behavior in the rat model involves chronic hyperstimulation of dopamine receptors, this raises the possibility that dopaminergic mechanisms may play a role in OCD, at least in some subtypes of this disorder.

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