A study analyses the risk genetic factors shared between ADHD and disruptive behaviour disorders

People with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) combined with disruptive behaviour disorders (DBDs) share about the 80% of genetic variants associated with aggressive and antisocial behaviours, this is one of the conclusions of a study published in the journal Nature Communications which counts on the participation of professor Bru Cormand · Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu.

This work is a new scientific breakthrough that will contribute to expanding the genetic landscape of ADHD comorbidities (i.e., the set of pathologies that are concurrent with this disorder).

ADHD: a psychiatric disorder that does not always come alone

ADHD is a common behaviour disorder -it affects about 5% of children and 2.5% adult people- and features hyperactivity, impulsiveness and attention deficit. This disorder usually comes with other psychiatric alterations, mainly disruptive behaviour disorders (DBDs), which can be associated with antisocial and aggressive behaviours.

“When they come together, people are more likely to fall into risky behaviours, addictive substance use, and premature death", notes Bru Cormand,  from the Faculty of Biology and the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Barcelona (IBUB), Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu (IRSJD).

The research team identified a genomic segment in the chromosome 11 which increases the risk of having ADHD combined with DBD. This region has the STIM1 gen, which is involved in the regulation of calcium cell levels, neuronal plasticity and learning memory.

"If we compare the genome of patients with ADHD and DBD to that of those patients with only ADHD, we see that people affected by both disorders have a higher genetic correlation with risk genetic variants. These extra correlations of ADHD and DBD patients would probably correspond to alterations other authors had related to aggressive-related behaviours", notes Dr. Cormand.

These results allow us to better understand the origins of DBDs associated with ADHD. Using genetic information to identify those individuals who are more vulnerable will have a strong impact on prevention, early detection and treatment, and will shed light on new research studies to find efficient therapies that can be specific for the disorder or shared between several disorders

Together with Bru Cormand, Marta Ribasés and Josep Antoni Ramos Quiroga from the Vall d'Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR) and the CIBER de Salut Mental (CIBERSAM) have participated in this study. The study is led by Ditte Demontis and Anders D. Børglum (Aarhus University, Denmark) and Stephen V. Faraone (State University of New York, United States). Within the frame of the European project Aggressotype, from the Horizon 2020 program, aimed at doing research on the neurobiological basis of the aggressive behaviour.

The research team has identified a genomic segment on chromosome 11, involved in the regulation of neuronal plasticity, memory and learning, which increases the risk of suffering from both ADHD and CDD.