Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,
Publications (selected list)
- This section is under construction -
Zebrafish models for developmental psychiatric disorders (Lillesaar, Drepper)
Although psychiatric disorder research made significant progress over the past years, with methods ranging from brain imaging to genetic studies, neurobiological mechanisms underlying the disorders is still lacking. To this end, we have developed a zebrafish (danio rerio) research platform which allows us to test in loss-of-function situations the contribution of clinically relevant genes to disorder pathology in this model organism. The generated models are investigated from larvae to adult developmental stages with various techniques ranging from molecular analysis, different imaging techniques, expression analysis to behavioural paradigms. Currently, we are investigating models for anxiety disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, see figure 1 above)
Translational Psychotherapy Research (Jans, Geissler, Bürger, Drepper, Romanos)
We partner with institutions all over Germany on large-scale multi-centre randomised controlled trials incorporating state-of-the-art treatments and multimodal biomarkers (e.g. genetic and epigenetic markers, transcranial sonography, fMRI, EEG, physiology) as predictors of treatment response in order to personalise treatment in the future.
Within the ongoing framework of the ESCAlife project (BMBF grants 01EE1408A-D), we are one of the leading centres in the largest ADHD psychotherapy study to date. As part of a research network to optimise psychotherapy for anxiety disorders (Protect-AD) we assess the effects of active parental involvement in the treatment of anxiety disorders in children (BMBF grant 01EE1402C).
Developmental psychopharmacology (Egberts, Taurines, Romanos, Gerlach)
Children and adolescents show specific organic conditions and a high vulnerability for adverse drug reactions. Our group is interested to learn more about the benefit-risk profile of psychotropic drug use in minors in daily clinical practice in order to improve safety and effectiveness of neuropsychopharmacological treatment in chidlren and adoelscents. We use an internet-based multicenter research registry to collect safety and effectiveness data in big numbers and high quality. In an ongoing pharmacovigilance study TDM-VIGIL (clinical trial phase IIIb, see figure 2 above) we evaluate off-label prescription patterns, to identify determinants of pharmacokinetic variability and to define age-specific therapeutic drug concentration windows.
(National Center of Pharmacovigilance, funded by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, BfArM-73.05/3832- 397285/12; Eudra-CT number 2013-004881-33.)
Developmental Neuroimaging (Neufang)
In the Developmental Neuroimaging Lab we focus on the influence of anxiety on structural and functional brain development. For example, trait anxiety has shown to inhibit frontal structural and functional development in terms of a delayed structural maturation in moderate and high anxious children combined with a less specialized bilateral frontal activation while performing the Hariri emotional face match task (see figure 3 above).
Anxiety can express itself not only in terms of avoidance (flight) but also aggressive behavior (fight). When examining these two dimensions of anxiety in an impulsivity task, two independent pathways were identified: a fronto-hippocampal pathway, associated with anxiety/flight reflected the recall of (fear) learned strategies to master the situation; and a fronto-striatal circuit, (IFG pars triangularis, nucleus accumbens), related to aggression with enhanced NAcc standing for reward seeking behavior and hinting towards a more reckless way to react (see figure 4 above).
Developmental mechanisms of Anxiety Disorders (Reinhard, Romanos)
Since anxiety disorders are the most prevalent with an typical onset in childhood, a better understanding of fear, anxiety and anxiety disorders already at an early stage of development is pivotal. Within the Collaborative Research Center on Fear, Anxiety, and Anxiety Disorders (SFB-TRR 58; funded by the German Research Foundation) we aim to gain insight into the physiological mechnisms of disposition and clinical symptom expression. Within the central project Z02 we investigated 500 healthy chidlren aged 8 to 12 years by means of a fear conditioning and generalization paradigm in relation to clinical anxiety traits. We are currentyl following up the sample at age 12 to 16 investigating the predictive value of generalization gradients with respect to the emergence of clinical anxiety disorders. By improving our understanding of the underlying mechanistic basis of pathological anxiety development, we lay the grounds for targeted prevention approaches (see figure 5&6 above).