The Interplay between Genes and the Environment in the Onset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Sylvie Mazen Jouaneh University College Dublin


This in-depth review scrutinizingly investigates the multifaceted etiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), highlighting the gene-environment interplay and the evolving gene-gene interaction. Critical to our exploration is the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) gene, the diathesis-stress model, genetic loading, and parental OCD status. Utilizing an assortment of research methodologies, such as family, twin, and genetic studies, this review examines major works that emphasize the key role of epigenetics in the onset of OCD. It demonstrates the association between OCD and the BDNF gene polymorphisms, specifically in those faced with childhood trauma, and the contribution of genetic predispositions namely harm avoidance. It reviews how the interplay of specific parenting factors and parental OCD status alter the manifestation of OCD, with twin studies highlighting the role of non-shared environmental factors. Notwithstanding the limitations associated with population validity, representational generalizability and cross-cultural applicability, the data validates the paramount contribution of the gene-environment interaction in OCD’s onset. It sets an argument against the role of the gene-gene interplay and raises the question, "To what extent does the interaction between genes and the environment contribute to OCD onset?" These understandings mold prospective personalized treatment approaches in neuro-psychopathology and highlights how cultural differences and environmental factors may influence the development of OCD.