Epigenetics of ADHD – how behaviors and environment can cause changes in the way genes work

Dr. Cristina Sánchez-Mora

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood and persists into adulthood in 40–65% of cases. Given the polygenic and heterogeneous architecture of the disorder and the limited overlap between genetic studies, there is a growing interest in epigenetic mechanisms, such as microRNAs, that modulate gene expression and may contribute to the phenotype. We attempted to clarify the role of microRNAs in ADHD at a molecular level through the first genome-wide integrative study of microRNA and mRNA profiles in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of medication-naive individuals with ADHD and healthy controls. We identified 79 microRNAs showing aberrant expression levels in 56 ADHD cases and 69 controls, with three of them, miR-26b-5p, miR-185-5p, and miR-191-5p, being highly predictive for diagnostic status in an independent dataset of 44 ADHD cases and 46 controls. Investigation of downstream microRNA-mediated mechanisms underlying the disorder, which was focused on differentially expressed, experimentally validated target genes of the three highly predictive microRNAs, provided evidence for aberrant myo-inositol signaling in ADHD and indicated an enrichment of genes involved in neurological disease and psychological disorders. Our comprehensive study design reveals novel microRNA–mRNA expression profiles aberrant in ADHD, provides novel insights into microRNA-mediated mechanisms contributing to the disorder, and highlights promising candidate peripheral biomarkers.

Publication information

Title: Epigenetic signature for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: identification of miR-26b-5p, miR-185-5p, and miR-191-5p as potential biomarkers in peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Authors: Cristina Sánchez-Mora, María Soler Artigas, Iris Garcia-Martínez, Mireia Pagerols, Paula Rovira, Vanesa Richarte, Montse Corrales, Christian Fadeuilhe, Natàlia Padilla, Xavier de la Cruz, Barbara Franke, Alejandro Arias-Vásquez, Miguel Casas, Josep-Antoni Ramos-Quiroga & Marta Ribasés

Journal: Neuropsychopharmacology

Year: 2018

Url: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0297-0