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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2017;241:189-215. doi: 10.1007/164_2016_127.

Histidine Decarboxylase Knockout Mice as a Model of the Pathophysiology of Tourette Syndrome and Related Conditions.

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Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, Yale Child Study Center, and Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Yale University School of Medicine, 34 Park Street, W315, New Haven, CT, 06519, USA.


While the normal functions of histamine (HA) in the central nervous system have gradually come into focus over the past 30 years, the relationship of abnormalities in neurotransmitter HA to human disease has been slower to emerge. New insight came with the 2010 description of a rare nonsense mutation in the biosynthetic enzyme histidine decarboxylase (Hdc) that was associated with Tourette syndrome (TS) and related conditions in a single family pedigree. Subsequent genetic work has provided further support for abnormalities of HA signaling in sporadic TS. As a result of this genetic work, Hdc knockout mice, which were generated more than 15 years ago, have been reexamined as a model of the pathophysiology of TS and related conditions. Parallel work in these KO mice and in human carriers of the Hdc mutation has revealed abnormalities in the basal ganglia system and its modulation by dopamine (DA) and has confirmed the etiologic, face, and predictive validity of the model. The Hdc-KO model thus serves as a unique platform to probe the pathophysiology of TS and related conditions, and to generate specific hypotheses for subsequent testing in humans. This chapter summarizes the development and validation of this model and recent and ongoing work using it to further investigate pathophysiological changes that may contribute to these disorders.


Animal model; Histamine; Histidine decarboxylase; Obsessive–compulsive disorder; Tic disorders; Tourette syndrome

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