Selective alterations of endocannabinoid system genes expression in obsessive compulsive disorder

Transl Psychiatry. 2024 Feb 26;14(1):118. doi: 10.1038/s41398-024-02829-8.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is listed as one of the top 10 most disabling neuropsychiatric conditions in the world. The neurobiology of OCD has not been completely understood and efforts are needed in order to develop new treatments. Beside the classical neurotransmitter systems and signalling pathways implicated in OCD, the possible involvement of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has emerged in pathophysiology of OCD. We report here selective downregulation of the genes coding for enzymes allowing the synthesis of the endocannabinoids. We found reduced DAGLĪ± and NAPE-PLD in blood samples of individuals with OCD (when compared to healthy controls) as well as in the amygdala complex and prefrontal cortex of dopamine transporter (DAT) heterozygous rats, manifesting compulsive behaviours. Also mRNA levels of the genes coding for cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 resulted downregulated, respectively in the rat amygdala and in human blood. Moreover, NAPE-PLD changes in gene expression resulted to be associated with an increase in DNA methylation at gene promoter, and the modulation of this gene in OCD appears to be correlated to the progression of the disease. Finally, the alterations observed in ECS genes expression appears to be correlated with the modulation in oxytocin receptor gene expression, consistently with what recently reported. Overall, we confirm here a role for ECS in OCD at both preclinical and clinical level. Many potential biomarkers are suggested among its components, in particular NAPE-PLD, that might be of help for a prompt and clear diagnosis.

PMID:38409080 | DOI:10.1038/s41398-024-02829-8