Clock Genes Profiles as Diagnostic Tool in (Childhood) ADHD—A Pilot Study

Alexander Dück*, Olaf Reis, Henrike Wagner, Katja Wunsch, Frank Häßler, Michael Kölch, Mariana Astiz, Johannes Thome, Christoph Berger, Henrik Oster

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very common disorder in children and adults. A connection with sleep disorders, and above all, disorders of the circadian rhythm are the subject of research and debate. The circadian system can be represented on different levels. There have been a variety of studies examining 24-h rhythms at the behavioral and endocrine level. At the molecular level, these rhythms are based on a series of feedback loops of core clock genes and proteins. In this paper, we compared the circadian rhythms at the behavioral, endocrine, and molecular levels between children with ADHD and age- and BMI-matched controls, complementing the previous data in adults. In a minimally invasive setting, sleep was assessed via a questionnaire, actigraphy was used to determine the motor activity and light exposure, saliva samples were taken to assess the 24-h profiles of cortisol and melatonin, and buccal mucosa swaps were taken to assess the expression of the clock genes BMAL1 and PER2. We found significant group differences in sleep onset and sleep duration, cortisol secretion profiles, and in the expression of both clock genes. Our data suggest that the analysis of circadian molecular rhythms may provide a new approach for diagnosing ADHD in children and adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1198
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 09.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-17 Endocrinology, Diabetology, Metabolism
  • 110-02 Biological Psychology and Cognitive Neurosciences

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