Scientists at the Queen Mary University of London and the University of Roehampton, London, have found that patients affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have increased levels of a protein called Immuno-mooduline(Imood) in their lymphocytes, a kind of immune cell.
Mice with high ranges of this protein were additionally found to exhibit behaviors that are attributed to anxiety and stress, akin to digging and excessive grooming.
When the doctors treated the mice with an antibody that neutralized Imood, the animals’ anxiety levels decreased.
The observations have pushed the researchers to file a patent for the antibody, and they’re now collaborating with a drug firm to develop a possible treatment for human patients.
Professor D’Acquisto, whose findings are featured in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, first identified Imood by probability while studying a unique protein referred to as Annexin-A1 and the role it plays in autoimmune ailments similar to a number of sclerosis and lupus.
He had developed transgenic mice to overexpress this protein in their T-cells, one of the foremost cells responsible for the development of autoimmune diseases; however, he found the mice showed more anxiety than regular. When he and his group analyzed the genes expressed in the animals’ T-cells, they found one gene, in particular, was particularly active.
When the anxious mice got an antibody that halted Imood, their behavior returned to normal in a few days.
The researchers tested the immune cells from 23 sufferers with OCD and 20 healthy volunteers. They found Imood expression was nearly six times higher in the OCD sufferers.