FLORENCE, Italy, Oct. 22 (UPI) — Israeli researchers have linked obsessive-compulsive disorder and strep throat in an animal model.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have developed a model using rats exposed to the strep bacteria — versus a strep-free control group — and found a distinct difference in behavior in the strep-exposed animals.
The strep-exposed rats developed a strep antibody that deposited in their brain. The rats also developed balance and coordination difficulties — as well as compulsive behaviors such as increased and repetitive grooming.
The researchers also found the strep antibody binds itself to brain chemical receptors — specifically dopamine D1 and 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,” researcher Daphna Joel said in a statement.
Joel stressed the importance of children getting timely treatment for strep throat and explained the study’s scientific demonstration of how strep could lead to brain dysfunction could point the way to new OCD treatment drugs.
The study was presented at the 13th Congress of the European Federation of Neurological Societies in Florence, Italy.
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