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.
- Social communication
- ADHD symptoms
- Clinical ADHD
- Genetic overlap
- ATTENTION-DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
- DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
- AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER
- METABOTROPIC GLUTAMATE-RECEPTOR
- GENOME-WIDE ASSOCIATION
- DIFFICULTIES QUESTIONNAIRE
- TWIN SAMPLE