Canine compulsive disorder gene identified

An international team of scientists from six different institutions have identified the gene associated with canine compulsive disorder (CCD), according to a recent study.

Compulsive disorders, which also occur in humans, are marked by time-consuming, repetitive behaviors such as acral lick dermatitis, tail chasing, fly snapping, flank sucking, blanket sucking and pacing/circling. The condition in dogs is more common in certain breeds, especially Doberman pinschers and bull terriers.

Behaviorists at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University collected blood samples from Dobermans that exhibited flank- and/or blanket-sucking compulsive behaviors, as well as healthy Dobermans that were not affected by the disorder. The team analyzed the genetic codes and compared them to see which genes might be causing the conditions.

In the study, the researchers found an association between CCD and the neural cadherin-2 gene (CDH2) on chromosome 7 in the dogs.

Dogs exhibiting multiple compulsive behaviors had a higher frequency of the risk DNA sequence than dogs that showed less severe behaviors (60 and 43 percent, respectively, compared with 22 percent in non-CCD dogs).

“As little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms for compulsive behaviors, this discovery could provide a better understanding of disease biology and facilitate development of genetic tests, enabling earlier interventions and even treatment or prevention of compulsive disorders in at-risk canines and humans,” the paper concludes.

The study appeared in the January issue of Molecular Psychiatry.

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