Recent studies conducted in the United States show a genetic component for the canine disease, canine compulsive disorder, or CCD. CCD is the canine equivalent of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a neurological condition characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive, ritualized behaviors (compulsions). Researchers believe that their work with dogs could shed new light on the causes of OCD in humans.
How Research into Dog Illnesses can Help Humans
Because dogs are carefully bred, they aren’t as diverse genetically as humans. Dogs also suffer from many of the same disorders that trouble humans, including epilepsy, certain cancers, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (known as canine compulsive disorder when it occurs in dogs). This means that research into dog health issues can provide valuable insights into human health conditions like OCD.
Canine Compulsive Disorder is Similar to OCD
Canine compulsive disorder is the canine equivalent of OCD, and it causes dogs to behave in a similarly obsessive-compulsive way. Dogs, like humans, normally perform behaviors designed to keep danger at bay and protect their health. Dogs may act on their natural predatory and self-preservation instincts, and this can manifest as tail-chasing, circling or pacing.
Dogs who suffer from CCD carry their obsessive-compulsive behaviors so far that they harm themselves through obsessive licking, self-biting and self-chewing. Normal, healthy humans, on the other hand, may regularly clean their homes and their selves, check door locks, and perform other behaviors that, in the obsessive-compulsive, can become dysfunctional and seriously disrupt daily life.
Study Finds Genetic Component to Canine OCD
Researchers working at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Broad Institute, and Tufts University have found a genetic component to canine compulsive disorder. They studied Dobermans, since this breed is known for being particularly prone to CCD. They compared the genomes of 92 symptomatic dogs with the genomes of 68 asymptomatic dogs. A variation in the gene known as Cadherin 2 was discovered to appear more frequently in those dogs who suffer from CCD.
Researchers intend to replicate this study on humans. Dr. Dennis L. Murphy, chief of the Laboratory of Clinical Science at the United States National Institute of Mental Health has collected DNA samples from 300 OCD patients, 400 relatives of OCD patients, and 600 people who do not suffer from OCD. Researchers hope that identifying a genetic component to OCD in humans could lead to better treatment options for the disease in the future.
Man’s Best Friend May Hold the Key to Treating OCD
Recent studies conducted in the U.S. show a genetic component to canine compulsive disorder, the canine form of obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. Researchers hope next to uncover a genetic component to this condition in humans. Finding such a component could lead researchers to a fuller understanding of the disease, and perhaps shed light on new treatment options.