In the News

A close-up of mouse brain tissue shows an engineered protein (stained green) being expressed by astrocytes, but no other cells.

Brain’s support cells may play a central role in repetitive behaviors related to OCD

Repetitive behavior disorders are relatively common. One of the best known in this family is obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, which affects more than 2 percent of the U.S. population. Existing treatments, often medications, may not bring adequate relief for about half of those with the disorder.

Baljit Khakh and his team have focused on a type of brain cell called astrocytes, which are largely thought of as support cells, though much of their role in regulating neurons — and behavior — has remained uncharted.

Their work has uncovered some of the basic brain mechanisms behind repetitive behavior, which may ultimately lead to new ways to treat psychiatric disorders, including OCD, at their root. The study, published in the journal Neuron , was led by Baljit Khakh, professor of Physiology and Neurobiology at UCLA. The study's first author is Xinzhu Yu, a postdoctoral researcher in the Khakh lab.

Neuron 99 1-18 September 19, 2018
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.08.015

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