A very interesting study was published this past week in JAMA Psychiatry stating that brain inflammation in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder is significantly elevated (by more than thirty per cent) compared to those without the disorder.
Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, senior author of the study and Head of the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, says:
“Our research showed a strong relationship between brain inflammation and OCD, particularly in the parts of the brain known to function differently in OCD,”…..”This finding represents one of the biggest breakthroughs in understanding the biology of OCD, and may lead to the development of new treatments.”
Another very interesting finding from the study is that researchers found a connection between resisting compulsions and brain inflammation. Those with OCD who experienced the greatest stress or anxiety when they tried to avoid acting out their compulsions also had the highest levels of inflammation in one particular brain area. This factor could prove helpful in determining who might benefit the most when and if new treatments are developed targeting inflammation.
I do think it’s worth mentioning that while this study seems to hold great promise, so much more work needs to be done. There were only twenty participants with OCD in the study, and twenty in the comparison group.
And as often happens, new findings generate more questions. Where does this inflammation come from? Where (if anywhere) does PANDAS fit into this picture? How will this information lead to better treatments for those with OCD?
I’m always excited and heartened to learn of new research and discoveries related to OCD, and this does appear to be a breakthrough of sorts. We are learning more and more about obsessive-compulsive disorder thanks to dedicated researchers who work tirelessly to unlock the mysteries of this potentially devastating disorder.