Variants in estrogen receptor alpha gene are associated with phenotypical expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder

P. Alonso, M. Gratacòs, C. Segalàs, G. Escaramís, E. Real, M. Bayés, J. Labad, A. Pertusa, J. Vallejo, Xavier P. Estivill, J. M. Menchón

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Compelling data from animal and clinical studies suggest that sex steroids may play a role in the etiopathology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The aim of this study was to investigate whether variants in estrogen receptor genes ESR1 and ESR2 may contribute to the genetic susceptibility to OCD, through a case-control association study using an extensive linkage disequilibrium-mapping approach. Twenty tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNPs) covering the ESR2 region and nine tagSNPS from regions of ESR1 reported to be related to transcriptional control were genotyped in 229 OCD patients and 279 controls. SNP association and haplotype analysis were performed. The association of these genes and OCD subphenotypes was tested, considering early-onset OCD, comorbid tic and affective disorders, and OCD symptom dimensions. No significant difference in the distribution of alleles or genotypes was detected between controls and OCD subjects. Nevertheless, on analyzing OCD subphenotypes, SNP rs34535804 in ESR1 and a five SNPs haplotype, located at the 5' end of intron 1 of ESR1, were associated with the presence of contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions. Specifically, carriers of the ACCCG haplotype, a combination of functional alleles related to higher ER alpha expression, showed a reduced risk of suffering from these symptoms. Our results suggest that the ESR1 gene may contribute to the genetic vulnerability to certain OCD manifestations. The dissection of OCD into more homogeneous subphenotypes may well help to identify susceptibility genes for the disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-483
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • Association
  • Contamination/cleaning
  • Estrogen receptor alpha and beta genes
  • Haplotype
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Subphenotype
  • TagSNP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems

Cite this

Alonso, P., Gratacòs, M., Segalàs, C., Escaramís, G., Real, E., Bayés, M., Labad, J., Pertusa, A., Vallejo, J., Estivill, X. P., & Menchón, J. M. (2011). Variants in estrogen receptor alpha gene are associated with phenotypical expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36(4), 473-483.