The Mouse Who Couldn't Stop Washing: Pathologic Grooming in Animals and Humans

UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
CNS spectrums (Impact Factor: 2.71). 09/2009; 14(9):503-13.
Source: PubMed


The basic science literature is replete with descriptions of naturally occurring or experimentally induced pathological grooming behaviors in animals, which are widely considered animal models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These animal models rely largely on observed similarities between animal behaviors and human OCD behaviors, and on studies of animal pathological grooming disorders that respond to serotonin enhancing drugs. However, current limitations in assessment of complex cognition and affect in animals precludes the field's ability to match the driving primary processes behind observable phenomenology in animal "OCD" with human behavioral disorders. We propose that excessive grooming behaviors in animals may eventually prove to be equally, or possibly more relevant to, other conditions in humans that involve pathological grooming or grooming-like behaviors, such as trichotillomania, body dysmorphic disorder, olfactory reference syndrome, compulsive skin-picking, and onychophagia. Research is needed to better understand pathological grooming behaviors in both humans and animals, as animal models have the potential to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms and inform the treatment of these psychiatric conditions in humans.

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Available from: Jamie Feusner, Mar 28, 2014
    • "However, both excessive grooming and obsessive-compulsive behaviors can result in physical and social impairment given their persistence despite negative consequences. In this respect, a spectrum of abnormal behavior resembling excessive grooming in both animals and humans may be related to some specific obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms [16] [17]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Individual differences are important biological predictors for reactivity to stressful stimulation. The extent to which trait differences underlie animal's reactions to conditioned and unconditioned fear stimuli, for example, is still to be clarified. Although grooming behavior has been associated with some aspects of the obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, its relation with other anxiety disorders is still unknown. Given that grooming behavior could be a component of the whole spectrum of these disorders, in the present study we allocated male Wistar rats in low, intermediate and high self-grooming groups according to the duration of such behavior in the elevated plus-maze (EPM). These groups were then evaluated in unconditioned fear tests, such as the EPM and the open-field, and in conditioned fear tests, such as fear-potentiated startle and fear extinction retention. Additionally, we studied the expression of unconditioned behaviors in marble burying test and the sensorimotor gate function with prepulse inhibition test. Neurochemicals and neuroendocrine parameters were also evaluated, with the quantification of basal corticosterone in the plasma, and dopamine, serotonin and their metabolites in brain structures involved with fear processing. In general, rats classified according to grooming expression showed similar performance in all behavioral tests. Accordingly, corticosterone and monoamine concentrations were similar among groups. Thus, despite grooming expression elicited by different approaches - especially pharmacological ones - has been related with some aspects of anxiety disorders, rats with different expression of spontaneous self-grooming in the EPM do not differ in anxiety-like behaviors nor in neurochemical and neuroendocrine parameters generally associated with anxiety disorders. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Behavioural brain research
    • "Individuals with SPD report high rates of co-occurring trichotillomania, and first-degree relatives of patients with SPD report high rates of grooming behaviors, including trichotillomania and SPD (Odlaug and Grant, 2008a,b; Wilhelm et al, 1999; Neziroglu et al, 2008). Given this overlapping familiality between SPD and trichotillomania, and that these conditions are associated with pathological habits that are difficult to suppress, it has been suggested that SPD can be viewed as a pathological grooming disorder alongside trichotillomania (Stein et al, 1994; Feusner et al, 2009; Beinvenu et al, 2012). One critical means of attempting to understand SPD and its relationship with other disorders is by identifying neural circuitry involved in the pathophysiology. "
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    ABSTRACT: Skin picking disorder (SPD) is characterized by the repetitive and compulsive picking of skin resulting in tissue damage. Neurocognitive findings in SPD implicate difficulty with response inhibition (suppression of pre-potent motor responses). This function is dependent on the integrity of the right frontal gyrus and the anterior cingulate cortices; and white matter tracts connecting such neural nodes. It was hypothesized that SPD would be associated with reduced fractional anisotropy in regions implicated in top-down response suppression, particularly white matter tracts in proximity of the bilateral anterior cingulate and right frontal (especially orbitofrontal and inferior frontal) cortices. Thirteen subjects meeting proposed SPD criteria for DSM-5, and free from other current psychiatric comorbidity, and 12 healthy comparison subjects underwent MRI with a 3-T system. Between-group comparison of imaging data underwent voxelwise analysis with permutation modeling and cluster correction. Fractional anisotropy (measured using diffusion tensor imaging) was the primary outcome measure. Subjects with SPD exhibited significantly reduced fractional anisotropy in tracts distributed bilaterally which included the anterior cingulate cortices.Fractional anisotropy did not correlate significantly with SPD disease severity or depressive or anxiety scores. These findings implicate disorganization of white matter tracts involved in motor generation and suppression in the pathophysiology of SPD, findings remarkably similar to those previously reported in trichotillomania. This study adds considerable support to the notion that-in addition to the phenomenological and co-morbid overlap between SPD and trichotillomania-these disorders likely share overlapping neurobiology.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 29 November 2012; doi:10.1038/npp.2012.241.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
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    • "The present study is the first comprehensive in-silico analysis combining behavioral and genomic data to examine mouse self-grooming behavior. An increased understanding this important, commonly observed and complex/patterned phenotype is likely to lead to insights into complex neurobehavioral disorders, such as autism and obsessive–compulsive disorder, (OCD) (Berridge et al., 2005; Bienvenu et al., 2009; Crawley, 2007; Feusner et al., 2009; Rapoport, 1991; Shmelkov et al., 2010; Silverman et al., 2010; Swedo et al., 1989; Welch et al., 2007; Yang and Lu, 2011 "
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    ABSTRACT: Rodent self-grooming is an important, evolutionarily conserved behavior, highly sensitive to pharmacological and genetic manipulations. Mice with aberrant grooming phenotypes are currently used to model various human disorders. Therefore, it is critical to understand the biology of grooming behavior, and to assess its translational validity to humans. The present in-silico study used publicly available gene expression and behavioral data obtained from several inbred mouse strains in the open-field, light-dark box, elevated plus- and elevated zero-maze tests. As grooming duration differed between strains, our analysis revealed several candidate genes with significant correlations between gene expression in the brain and grooming duration. The Allen Brain Atlas, STRING, GoMiner and Mouse Genome Informatics databases were used to functionally map and analyze these candidate mouse genes against their human orthologs, assessing the strain ranking of their expression and the regional distribution of expression in the mouse brain. This allowed us to identify an interconnected network of candidate genes (which have expression levels that correlate with grooming behavior), display altered patterns of expression in key brain areas related to grooming, and underlie important functions in the brain. Collectively, our results demonstrate the utility of large-scale, high-throughput data-mining and in-silico modeling for linking genomic and behavioral data, as well as their potential to identify novel neural targets for complex neurobehavioral phenotypes, including grooming.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
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