Conduct Disorder (CD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder with symptoms of Conduct Disorder (which is included among the abbreviation “CD” throughout the proposal) has a highly negative impact for the affected individual as well as for families and society. Although the number of females exhibiting serious aggressive behaviours is growing, the majority of studies on aetiology and treatment of CD have focused on male subjects only, despite strong evidence for a differential neurobiological basis of female CD. The key aims of the FemNAT-CD consortium are to identify biomarkers and to study disease mechanisms from pre- to postpubertal female CD as well as new psychological and pharmacological treatment options for female adolescent CD targeting emotion processing abilities. With the present proposal, we aim at clarifying the phenomenology and neurobiology of female CD from pre-puberty to post-puberty. We will study the role of genetic and environmental risk factors on female CD, related psychopathology, brain structure and function, HPA axis and autonomic nervous system (ANS) disturbance to elicit CD specific endophenotypes and its biomarkers. We will describe the clinical, neuronal and neurocognitive phenotype of female CD from pre- to postpuberty and related neuroendocrine and ANS function as well as moderating, mediating and direct risk factors to identify distinct homogeneous subtypes to guide targeted future treatment approaches. We translate knowledge of neuropsychological and neurobiological characteristics into targeted intervention by performing a randomised controlled trial of an innovative 16-week DBT-CD-A psychological treatment program focussing on emotion processing. The effect oxytocin and serotonin on neural function underlying emotion processing and aggression will be studied in a female animal model and two proof of concept pharmaco-challenge studies. We also target several societal and education objectives. Our consortium brings together strong clinical and basic science expertise on paediatric CD, including a number of SMEs and a professional management company.
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Funding SchemeCP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project