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Investigating the genetic underpinnings of early-life irritability

Riglin, Lucy, Eyre, Olga, Cooper, Miriam ORCID:, Collishaw, Stephan ORCID:, Martin, Joanna ORCID:, Langley, Kate ORCID:, Leibenluft, E, Stringaris, A, Thapar, A, Maughan, B, O'Donovan, Michael ORCID: and Thapar, Anita ORCID: 2017. Investigating the genetic underpinnings of early-life irritability. Translational Psychiatry 7 , e1241. 10.1038/tp.2017.212

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Severe irritability is one of the commonest reasons prompting referral to mental health services. It is frequently seen in neurodevelopmental disorders that manifest early in development, especially attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, irritability can also be conceptualized as a mood problem because of its links with anxiety/depressive disorders; notably DSM-5 currently classifies severe, childhood-onset irritability as a mood disorder. Investigations into the genetic nature of irritability are lacking although twin studies suggest it shares genetic risks with both ADHD and depression. We investigated the genetic underpinnings of irritability using a molecular genetic approach, testing the hypothesis that early irritability (in childhood/adolescence) is associated with genetic risk for ADHD, as indexed by polygenic risk scores (PRS). As a secondary aim we investigated associations between irritability and PRS for major depressive disorder (MDD). Three UK samples were utilized: two longitudinal population-based cohorts with irritability data from childhood (7 years) to adolescence (15–16 years), and one ADHD patient sample (6–18 years). Irritability was defined using parent reports. PRS were derived from large genome-wide association meta-analyses. We observed associations between ADHD PRS and early irritability in our clinical ADHD sample and one of the population samples. This suggests that early irritability traits share genetic risk with ADHD in the general population and are a marker of higher genetic loading in individuals with an ADHD diagnosis. Associations with MDD PRS were not observed. This suggests that early-onset irritability could be conceptualized as a neurodevelopmental difficulty, behaving more like disorders such as ADHD than mood disorders.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2158-3188
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 August 2017
Date of Acceptance: 30 July 2017
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 20:08

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