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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2016 Aug;123(8):991-1000. doi: 10.1007/s00702-016-1534-5. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

The aetiological association between the dynamics of cortisol productivity and ADHD.

Author information

1
King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK.
2
School of Criminology, University of Montréal, Research Centre of the Montreal Mental Health University Institute and the Research Group on Child Maladjustment, Montreal, Canada.
3
King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK. jonna.kuntsi@kcl.ac.uk.

Abstract

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been linked to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, indexed by salivary cortisol. The phenotypic and aetiological association of cortisol productivity with ADHD was investigated. A selected twin design using 68 male twin-pairs aged 12-15, concordant or discordant for high ADHD symptom scores, or control twin-pairs with low ADHD symptoms, based on developmentally stable parental ADHD ratings. A genetic growth curve model was applied to cortisol samples obtained across three points during a cognitive-electroencephalography assessment, to examine the aetiological overlap of ADHD affection status (high versus low ADHD symptom scores) with latent intercept and slope factors. A significant phenotypic correlation emerged between ADHD and the slope factor, with cortisol levels dropping faster for the group with high ADHD symptom scores. The analyses further suggested this overlap was mostly driven by correlated genetic effects. We identified change in cortisol activity over time as significantly associated with ADHD affection status, primarily explained by shared genetic effects, suggesting that blunted cortisol productivity can be a marker of genetic risk in ADHD.

KEYWORDS:

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Cortisol; Developmental psychiatry; Growth curve modelling (GCM); Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis; Twin study

PMID:
27106905
PMCID:
PMC5005391
DOI:
10.1007/s00702-016-1534-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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