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Abnormal Anhedonia as a Potential Endophenotype in Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder

Authors Xu C, Chen J, Cui Z, Wen R, Han H, Jin L, Wan G, Wei Z, Peng Z

Received 17 June 2020

Accepted for publication 2 November 2020

Published 8 December 2020 Volume 2020:16 Pages 3001—3010


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Yuping Ning

Chuanyong Xu,1,* Jierong Chen,2,* Zitian Cui,1 Rongzhen Wen,1 Hongying Han,3 Lili Jin,1 Guobin Wan,2 Zhen Wei,2 Ziwen Peng1

1Center for Studies of Psychological Application, School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Child Psychiatry and Rehabilitation, Affiliated Shenzhen Maternity & Child Healthcare Hospital, Southern Medical University, Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Psychiatry, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Ziwen Peng
School of Psychology, South China Normal University, No. 55, West of Zhongshan Avenue, Guangzhou 510631, People’s Republic of China
Tel/Fax +86 20-85210369
Zhen Wei
Department of Child Psychiatry and Rehabilitation, Affiliated Shenzhen Maternity & Child Healthcare Hospital, Southern Medical University, No. 3012 Fuqiang Road, Futian District, Shenzhen, 518048, People’s Republic of China

Background: Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is often accompanied by cognitive, particularly executive function, impairments. Recently, anhedonia has emerged as an apparently important symptom of OCD reflecting altered emotion regulation. These two aspects are often comorbid in OCD. However, little is known about whether anhedonia may be a trait marker for OCD.
Methods: To verify the role of executive function and evaluate the role of anhedonia in OCD and its relationship with OCD symptoms, we recruited 60 OCD patients, 30 unaffected first-degree relatives (FDRs), and 60 healthy controls (HCs). Participants completed psychometric testing to assess depression, anxiety, and anhedonia symptoms, as well as two cognitive tests to assess executive function, namely the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the Stroop Color-Word Test (SCWT).
Results: Compared to HCs, OCD patients and FDRs had significantly lower anticipatory and consummatory pleasure scores. The severity of anticipatory anhedonia correlated positively with obsessive–compulsive symptoms (r = 0.253, p = 0.009), even after controlling for depression and anxiety symptoms. Compared to HCs, OCD patients and FDRs made more errors and achieved fewer categories in the WCST. For all three SWCT components, OCD patients and FDRs took more time to name colors than HCs, but the three groups had similar numbers of errors.
Conclusion: This family-based study showed dampened pleasure together with cognitive dysfunction in OCD patients. The similar consummatory pleasure findings between OCD and FDR groups suggest anhedonia may be considered as a candidate OCD endophenotype.

Keywords: anhedonia, obsessive–compulsive disorder, executive function, endophenotype

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