Alina Marinca

Thesis Title: Exploring the overlap between neurodevelopmental disorders and traits with adolescent hypomania

Abstract: Bipolar disorder is one of the leading causes of disability globally, but the origins of bipolar disorder are not fully understood. Literature suggests growing evidence of substantial overlap between bipolar disorder and several neurodevelopmental conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. Significant genetic overlap (44-52%) between autism and ADHD and 6-9% of adolescence hypomania variance was found due to genetic influences of children who developed autism in their history. Moreover, hypomania and bipolar disorder’ phenotypes were explained by 72% genetic factors and 28% nonshared environmental factors, the findings highlighted the importance of the underlying pathway history for a bipolar disorder’s developmental model.

This project is using a genetically sensitive approach to analyse data from prospective longitudinal twin study. Firstly, by investigating the longitudinal association between childhood autistic traits and ADHD symptoms with hypomania in adolescence and early adulthood in a community sample, by exploring gene–environmental overlap between these conditions and lastly, by examining the association of these conditions’ polygenic risk scores, the results being novel and informative for clinical practice. Moreover, investigating the relationship between hypomania in youths and cognitive deficits like working memory, attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity known to be associated with neurodevelopmental conditions may provide new findings. Research objectives are addressed by using two large data resources.

Prospective longitudinal approaches are rarely used in bipolar disorder research due to its low prevalence, which precludes the use of many existing datasets. This project, which explores the overlap between neurodevelopmental disorders and traits with adolescent hypomania, enables a broader understanding of the aetiology of hypomania and by extension of bipolar disorder.

First Supervisor: Dr Georgina Hosang


Social media: @MarincaAlina