The serotonergic system in obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric condition that is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. Over the past decades, the involvement of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) in treatment and pathophysiology of OCD has been actively discussed. The therapeutic effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in OCD patients strongly implicate 5-HT in the reduction of OCD symptoms. However, the role of the 5-HT system in development and pathophysiology of OCD remains less clear. Here, we review neurochemical, genetic association, and receptor and transporter binding studies to shed more light on a potential dysfunction of the 5-HT system in OCD patients. Additionally, animal studies demonstrate that alterations of the 5-HT system can both induce and alleviate OCD-like symptoms. To provide more insight, future studies should take several factors into account: the heterogeneity of the disorder, the variety of genetic polymorphisms associated with OCD, and possible interactions with other neurotransmitter systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Behavioral Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier B.V
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameHandbook of Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Animal models
  • Genetics
  • Neurobiology
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Receptor binding
  • Serotonin

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