Shared genetic influences between dimensional ASD and ADHD symptoms during child and adolescent development

Evie Stergiakouli, George Davey Smith, Joanna Martin, David H. Skuse, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Susan M. Ring, Angelica Ronald, David E. Evans, Simon E. Fisher, Anita Thapar, Beate St Pourcain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Background: Shared genetic influences between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms have been reported. Cross-trait genetic relationships are, however, subject to dynamic changes during development. We investigated the continuity of genetic overlap between ASD and ADHD symptoms in a general population sample during childhood and adolescence. We also studied uni- and cross-dimensional trait-disorder links with respect to genetic ADHD and ASD risk.

Methods: Social-communication difficulties (N = 5551, Social and Communication Disorders Checklist, SCDC) and combined hyperactive-impulsive/inattentive ADHD symptoms (N = 5678, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ- ADHD) were repeatedly measured in a UK birth cohort (ALSPAC, age 7 to 17 years). Genome- wide summary statistics on clinical ASD (5305 cases; 5305 pseudo- controls) and ADHD (4163 cases; 12,040 controls/pseudo- controls) were available from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Genetic trait variances and genetic overlap between phenotypes were estimated using genome-wide data.

Results: In the general population, genetic influences for SCDC and SDQ-ADHD scores were shared throughout development. Genetic correlations across traits reached a similar strength and magnitude (cross- trait r(g)

Conclusions: In the general population, genetic aetiologies between social-communication difficulties and ADHD symptoms are shared throughout child and adolescent development and may implicate similar biological pathways that co-vary during development. Within both the ASD and the ADHD dimension, population-based traits are also linked to clinical disorder, although much larger clinical discovery samples are required to reliably detect cross-dimensional trait-disorder relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Autism
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Social communication
  • ADHD symptoms
  • Clinical ADHD
  • ALSPAC
  • Genetic overlap
  • ATTENTION-DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
  • DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
  • AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER
  • METABOTROPIC GLUTAMATE-RECEPTOR
  • GENOME-WIDE ASSOCIATION
  • DIFFICULTIES QUESTIONNAIRE
  • GENERAL-POPULATION
  • SOCIAL-COMMUNICATION
  • TWIN SAMPLE
  • TRAITS

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