Biomarkers of OCD Subtypes Using Brain Imaging

A number of studies using different techniques have suggested that the neurotransmitter glutamate is present at excessive levels in at least some patients with OCD. This idea has motivated our use of glutamate-modulating drugs in OCD that has not responded to standard therapies. However, the details of how glutamate is out of balance in OCD remain unclear. Likewise, it is unclear whether glutamate dysregulation contributes to all forms of OCD or only to some subtypes. Better understanding this issue may, in the future, help us select which therapies are most likely to work for individual patients.

The Yale OCD Research Clinic uses an imaging method, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), to measure the levels of glutamate and related molecules in the brain. This is done in a brain scanner very similar to that used for the MRI imaging that is standard in all hospitals. By better understanding how and where glutamate is disrupted in OCD, we hope to expand our knowledge of the biological changes that contribute to the disorder and how to develop new medication strategies to address them.

This study involves answering questions about your psychiatric condition and then having a single MRS scan. An MRS scan is very similar to an MRI scan, which is done routinely in clinical care; it requires you to lie still in a large scanner for about 90 minutes. Both OCD patients who are on no medications and those who are on medications and are entering one of our treatment studies are eligible for this study. 

Yale OCD Research Clinic
Principal Investigator: 
Christopher J. Pittenger, MD, PhD
Eligibility Criteria: 

Ages 18-65
Diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Suzanne Wasylink, (203) 974-7523 ,
New Haven, CT
Study End Date: 
Sat, 2017-04-01

Contact ADAA

8701 Georgia Ave., Suite #412
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Contact ADAA

Request Publications



ADAA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety and mood disorders, OCD, and PTSD and to improving the lives of all people who suffer from them through education, practice, and research.


Privacy Policy 
© ADAA, 2010-2016