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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2010;12(2):149-63.

The genetics of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a review.

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Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Center for Human Genetic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 2% of the populations of children and adults. Family aggregation studies have demonstrated that OCD is familial, and results from twin studies demonstrate that the familiality is due in part to genetic factors. Only three genome-wide linkage studies have been completed to date, with suggestive but not definitive results. In addition, over 80 candidate gene studies have been published. Most of these studies have focused on genes in the serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways. Unfortunately, none have achieved genome-wide significance, and, with the exception of the glutamate transporter gene, none have been replicated. Future research will require the collaboration of multidisciplinary teams of investigators to (i) achieve sufficiently large samples of individuals with OCD; (ii) apply the state-of-the-art laboratory techniques; and (iii) perform the bioinformatic analyses essential to the identification of risk loci.

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