Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behaviorally defined phenotype with patterns of deficits involving attention and inhibition characterized by variability in presentation, pervasiveness, and impairment. Pathophysiologic models of ADHD have advanced through intermediate constructs termed endophenotypes which are quantifiable, grounded in an understanding of the relevant neuro-circuitry, and simplified to be more closely linked to gene expression. We hypothesize that abnormal intracortical inhibition (ICI) functions as a physiologic transducer, a mediating or moderating element underlying many endophenotype constructs in ADHD. A biomarker of GABAergic, dopamine-sensitive, short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), is available through emerging technology involving paired-pulse, transcranial magnetic stimulation (pTMS) of motor cortex. Our group has studied SICI in children and adolescents with ADHD with regard to safety, stability, and test-retest reliability. Evidence reveals cortical inhibition (SICI) to be inversely correlated with ADHD symptom severity. As SICI is abnormal in ADHD, our studies suggest SICI change after ATX may signal a physiologic compensation which may mediate subsequent clinical response. We propose these specific aims: 1) To evaluate Intracortical Inhibition (SICI) measured by pTMS, as a marker of the hyperactive-impulsive dimension and symptom severity;2) To determine cognitive correlates of SICI change relevant to a well characterized ADHD endophenotype of "response suppression/inhibition" by time-locking elements of a Stop Task to pTMS;3) To characterize the effects of four weeks of atomoxetine (ATX) treatment on ADHD and cortical inhibition. We will assess 120 7-12 year old children with ADHD in a double-blinded, placebo controlled design (ATX vs PLB) evaluating expanded neurophysiological inhibitory markers of transcallosal cortical inhibition (e.g. ISP) along with SICI (aim 3a), and, to follow up on our prior findings related to dopamine transporter polymorphisms, we will assess the contributions of multiple possibly ADHD-related genes (aim 3b).
This aim will evaluate whether SICI change following 4 weeks of treatment with ATX predicts treatment response (change from baseline ADHD Rating Scale). Controlling for mental state in this proposal by using the Stop Task may elucidate our seeming paradoxical finding of decreased SICI with ATX response (Gilbert 2007).
This aim, though exploratory, has the potential for high clinical impact, determining whether genomic information can be combined with pTMS to more accurately predict clinical response to ATX, as treatment now is delayed, and unpredictable without phenotypic predictors of response.

Public Health Relevance

Attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder is the most common behavioral disorder of childhood produces significant morbidity in academic, vocational and psychosocial outcomes. ADHD is complex in etiology, with many neurobiologic substrates, one of which is short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI). SICI measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation (pTMS) of motor cortex has been shown to be inversely correlated with ADHD symptom severity. This proposal will further characterize both the physiologic relevance of SICI for ADHD as well as its utility to predict response to ADHD treatments such as atomoxetine.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Acute Neural Injury and Epilepsy Study Section (ANIE)
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Friedman-Hill, Stacia
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University of Cincinnati
Schools of Medicine
United States
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