Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and glial integrity: S100B, cytokines and kynurenine metabolism - effects of medication

Robert D. Oades*, Maria R. Dauvermann, Benno G. Schimmelmann, Markus J. Schwarz, Aye Mu Myint

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background: Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show a marked temporal variability in their display of symptoms and neuropsychological performance. This could be explained in terms of an impaired glial supply of energy to support neuronal activity.

Method: We pursued one test of the idea with measures of a neurotrophin reflecting glial integrity (S100B) and the influences of 8 cytokines on the metabolism of amino-acids, and of tryptophan/kynurenine to neuroprotective or potentially toxic products that could modulate glial function. Serum samples from 21 medication-naïve children with ADHD, 21 typically-developing controls, 14 medicated children with ADHD and 7 healthy siblings were analysed in this preliminary exploration of group differences and associations.

Results: There were no marked group differences in levels of S100B, no major imbalance in the ratios of pro- to anti-inflammatory interleukins nor in the metabolism of kynurenine to toxic metabolites in ADHD. However, four trends are described that may be worthy of closer examination in a more extensive study. First, S100B levels tended to be lower in ADHD children that did not show oppositional/conduct problems. Second, in medicated children raised interleukin levels showed a trend to normalisation. Third, while across all children the sensitivity to allergy reflected increased levels of IL-16 and IL-10, the latter showed a significant inverse relationship to measures of S100B in the ADHD group. Fourthly, against expectations healthy controls tended to show higher levels of toxic 3-hydroxykynurenine (3 HK) than those with ADHD.

Conclusions: Thus, there were no clear signs (S100B) that the glial functions were compromised in ADHD. However, other markers of glial function require examination. Nonetheless there is preliminary evidence that a minor imbalance of the immunological system was improved on medication. Finally, if lower levels of the potentially toxic 3 HK in ADHD children were confirmed this could reflect a reduction of normal pruning processes in the brain that would be consistent with delayed maturation (supported here by associations with amino-acid metabolism) and a reduced metabolic source of energy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalBehavioral and Brain Functions
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are very grateful to UCB Pharma GmbH for financial support. We would like to thank Victoria Kirchhoff, Adriana Banozic and Ellen Uslar for their assistance in running this study in Essen, and Johana Zach for her help in the biochemical analyses in Munich. We are also grateful to Professor Manfred Schedlowski for helpful discussion.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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