B4455 - Looking through the epigenome to better understand ADHD and co-occurring psycho-neurobehavioural traits - 23/11/2023

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Doretta Caramaschi | University of Exeter (United Kingdom)
Ruby Fryer, Iris Felikis, Ella Swinbourne, Chun Kwok
Title of project: 
Looking through the epigenome to better understand ADHD and co-occurring psycho-neurobehavioural traits
Proposal summary: 

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD) has symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or both. However, patients
with ADHD often experience symptoms of other disorders such as autism spectrum
disorder (ASD), epilepsy, conduct disorder, or anxiety symptoms. Previously, it was
reported that there are shared heritability and cognitive process across the
conditions, implying that there are common underlying biopsychological factors
that have not been identified. Epigenetic biomarkers, especially blood DNA
methylation (DNAm) became significantly important in understanding
neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD. Even though the associations
between DNAm and each condition were investigated, there is a limited amount of
research on DNAm biomarkers across ADHD-related phenotypes (ADHD and cooccurring
symptoms). We hypothesized that the underlying biological factors
would be specific to clusters of conditions and could be used as a diagnosis factor
for children. Therefore, we propose to investigate the relationships between each
of the individual traits linked to ADHD and DNAm to reveal their epigenetic
similarities and differences. The epigenetic similarities and differences will give in-depth
insight to understand ADHD. We will use a series of computational methods
including EWAS and machine learning to investigate the DNAm biomarkers of
complex ADHD-related phenotypes from around 1500 participants from the Avon
Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Impact of research: 
This work will impact both families of children with ADHD and clinicians to have better understanding of ADHD and co-occurring conditions. This research may guide the families to know what other conditions their children with ADHD would experience and how to manage the co-occurring condition. Moreover, this research might suggest different approach to the diagnosis of ADHD instead of diagnosis solely on symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. As this is a student project, it will also benefit the development of data science skills in psychology students.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 6 November, 2023
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 7 November, 2023
Genetic epidemiology (including association studies and mendelian randomisation), ADHD, Statistical methods, Epigenetics