A genetically engineered line of mice developed a decade ago in Cincinnati to study intestinal disorders is helping scientists in China shed new light on ADHD and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

A study published in August in the prestigious journal Science reports that the intestinal membrane receptor protein, guanylyl cyclase-C (GC-C), is also expressed in critical areas of the brain. This is the first time the GC-C receptor has been linked to ADHD, according to the researchers.

The senior author on the study is Minmin Luo, a researcher at the National Institute of Biological Sciences and Tsinghua University in Beijing.  Mitchell Cohen, MD, director of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Cincinnati Children’s is a co-author.

The study establishes that a “GC-C knockout” mouse, developed at the University of Cincinnati and now maintained by Cincinnati Children’s, can function as a model for ADHD. The mice exhibit symptoms of the disorder and they respond to known medications.

“This could make the GC-C knockout mouse a good research model for ADHD and other behavioral disorders,” Cohen says. “Efforts to develop activators or inhibitors of this signaling pathway may lead to novel treatments for other disorders such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and addiction.”

Cincinnati Children’s continues to use the GC-C knockout mouse in ongoing studies of intestinal and diarrheal disorders, Cohen says.