Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Obsessing over strep throat in kids: Research links obsessive-compulsive disorder to common childhood illness

Date:
October 22, 2010
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
While scientists have speculated on a link between obsessive-compulsive disorder and childhood infections like strep for more than two decades, a psychology researcher in Israel has now scientifically demonstrated that strep can lead to brain dysfunction and OCD. The breakthrough could lead to new drugs for treating OCD, and may in the future prevent the psychiatric disorder altogether.

A common infection in children, strep throat can lead to problems with a child's heart, joints or brain if left untreated. And when the brain is involved, motor and mental functioning may be compromised, leading to syndromes such as attention deficit disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

While scientists have speculated on a link between OCD and childhood infections like strep for more than two decades, Prof. Daphna Joel and her team of researchers at Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology have now scientifically demonstrated that strep can lead to brain dysfunction and OCD. Dr. Joel says their breakthrough could lead to new drugs for treating OCD, and may in the future prevent the psychiatric disorder altogether.

Conducted by the PhD student Lior Brimberg and in collaboration with Prof. Madelaine W. Cunningham of the University of Oklahoma, the research, recently presented at the 13th Congress of the European Federation of Neurological Societies in Florence, Italy, is expected to be published by the beginning of next year.

How strep attacks the brain

"It's almost impossible to show how strep can lead to OCD in humans ― almost all of us, even very young children, have been exposed to the bacterium at one time or another," says Prof. Joel. "But childhood seems to provide a distinct window of opportunity for the disorder to take root through strep infection," she warns.

Working with the world's leading specialist in strep-related heart disease,Prof. Cunningham, the researchers developed a new animal model to show how exposure to strep affects the brain and leads to a number of physical and mental ailments.

In her Tel Aviv University laboratory, Prof. Joel and Brimberg created an animal model using rats exposed to the strep bacteria. Comparing them to a strep-free control group, Prof. Joel measured a distinct difference in behavior in the strep-exposed animals.

First, the strep-exposed rats developed a strep antibody which deposited in their brain, confirming the suspicions of previous researchers. Those exposed also developed balance and coordination difficulties, as well as compulsive behaviors such as increased and repetitive grooming.

More important, they also found that the strep antibody binds itself to dopamine D1 and D2 receptors in the brain. This finding is in harmony with the fact that one of the main drugs for treating Sydenham's Chorea, a motor disorder associated with strep, targets these same dopamine D2 receptors.

"We were able to show that these antibodies are binding to receptors in the brain and changing the way certain neurotransmitters operate, leading to brain dysfunction and motor and behavioral symptoms," Prof. Joel says.

Prevention before the cure

This breakthrough finding could lead to new modes of diagnosis of the disease and provide a new platform for drug developers seeking to treat or cure OCD.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, OCD affects up to 2% of all children and adolescents in the U.S. The disorder is characterized by recurrent intense obsessions and/or compulsions that may cause severe discomfort, anxiety and stress, and interfere with day-to-day functioning.

Prof. Joel stresses how important it is for parents who notice signs of strep throat to ensure that their children get treated with the appropriate antibiotics in a timely fashion.

Strep-induced OCD will likely continue to be a major problem in the developing world where strep is not treated adequately, she concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Obsessing over strep throat in kids: Research links obsessive-compulsive disorder to common childhood illness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020131712.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2010, October 22). Obsessing over strep throat in kids: Research links obsessive-compulsive disorder to common childhood illness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020131712.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Obsessing over strep throat in kids: Research links obsessive-compulsive disorder to common childhood illness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101020131712.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins