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Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and The Immune System


According to the model that is emerging from research literature, prolonged "immunologic stress" may be a risk factor for OCD. That is, immunologic stress may compromise the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and permit the influx of antineuronal antibodies into the central nervous system (CNS). Additionally, in PANDIS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) antibodies cross-react with basal ganglia neurons following streptococcus infection. This autoimmune reaction disrupts a basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit and generates obsessive- compulsive symptoms. Thus, even viral infections might trigger the autoimmune process leading to OCD.

Research Findings

Allergic Syndromes in OCD, Anxiety Disorders, and Dysthymia

Specific Immune Alterations

Treatment Implications

Fig. 1: Assessment and treatment of children presenting with abrupt-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or tic disorders.

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