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Hoarding in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Clinical and Genetic Correlates

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(9):1155-1160

Objective: Hoarding may be an important symptom dimension in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Hoarding in OCD has been associated with poor insight, poorer response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors than other OCD symptom dimensions, and a distinctive psychobiological profile. The clinical and genetic correlates of hoarding in OCD therefore deserve additional investigation.

Method: Adult OCD patients (N = 315) underwent a comprehensive clinical assessment that included the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (Patient Edition) and for Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders. DNA extracted from venous blood (10-30 mL) in a Caucasian subset of the interviewed OCD patients (N = 204) and Caucasian controls (N = 169), including patients (N = 94) and controls (N = 138) of Afrikaner descent, was genotyped to investigate polymorphisms in genes involved in monoamine function and previously hypothesized to be relevant to OCD. Data were collected from 1998 through 2004.

Results: OCD patients with hoarding made up 18.1% of the total sample. Compared with nonhoarding OCD, OCD with hoarding was associated with a number of comorbid Axis I disorders, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, significantly higher OCD severity scores, and more functional impairment. In subjects of Afrikaner descent, the L/L genotype of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism was significantly more common in the OCD hoarding group, with a preponderance of low activity alleles, compared with nonhoarding patients and controls.

Conclusions: These data are consistent with the hypothesis that hoarding represents a unique symptom subtype in OCD with a distinctive clinical and psychobiological profile. Further work is needed to determine the psychobiological mechanisms responsible for hoarding and to replicate the genetic findings noted here.