, Volume 131, Issue 6, pp 917-929,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Apr 2012

A common genetic network underlies substance use disorders and disruptive or externalizing disorders


Here we summarize evidence obtained by our group during the last two decades, and contrasted it with a review of related data from the available literature to show that behavioral syndromes involving attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), externalizing disorders, and substance-use disorder (SUD) share similar signs and symptoms (i.e., have a biological basis as common syndromes), physiopathological and psychopathological mechanisms, and genetic factors. Furthermore, we will show that the same genetic variants harbored in different genes are associated with different syndromes and that non-linear interactions between genetic variants (epistasis) best explain phenotype severity, long-term outcome, and response to treatment. These data have been depicted in our studies by extended pedigrees, where ADHD, externalizing symptoms, and SUD segregate and co-segregate. Finally, we applied here a new formal network analysis using the set of significantly replicated genes that have been shown to be either associated and/or linked to ADHD, disruptive behaviors, and SUD in order to detect significantly enriched gene categories for protein and genetic interactions, pathways, co-expression, co-localization, and protein domain similarity. We found that networks related to pathways involved in axon guidance, regulation of synaptic transmission, and regulation of transmission of nerve impulse are overrepresented. In summary, we provide compiled evidence of complex networks of genotypes underlying a wide phenotype that involves SUD and externalizing disorders.