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Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic psychiatric disorder leading to considerable distress and disability. Therapies are effective in a majority of paediatric patients, however, many only get partial response. It is therefore important to study the underlying pathophysiology of the disorder.
1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was used to study the concentration of brain metabolites in four different locations (cingulate gyrus and sulcus, occipital cortex, thalamus and right caudate nucleus). Treatment-naive children and adolescents with OCD (13 subjects) were compared with a group of healthy age- and gender-matched subjects (11 subjects). Multivariate analyses were performed on the concentration values.
No separation between controls and patients was found. However, a correlation between metabolite concentrations and symptom severity as measured with the Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS) was found. Strongest was the correlation with the CY-BOCS obsession subscore and aspartate and choline in the caudate nucleus (positively correlated with obsessions), lipids at 2 and 0.9 ppm in thalamus, and occipital glutamate+glutamine, N-acetylaspartate and myo-inosytol (negatively correlated with obsessions).
The observed correlations between 1H MRS and CY-BOCS in treatment-naive patients further supports an occipital involvement in OCD. The results are consistent with our previous study on adult OCD patients. The 1H MRS data were not supportive of a separation between the patient and control groups.
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