, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 281-295,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Feb 2010

Shared heritability of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder

Abstract

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorders. Evidence indicates both disorders co-occur with a high frequency, in 20–50% of children with ADHD meeting criteria for ASD and in 30-80% of ASD children meeting criteria for ADHD. This review will provide an overview on all available studies [family based, twin, candidate gene, linkage, and genome wide association (GWA) studies] shedding light on the role of shared genetic underpinnings of ADHD and ASD. It is concluded that family and twin studies do provide support for the hypothesis that ADHD and ASD originate from partly similar familial/genetic factors. Only a few candidate gene studies, linkage studies and GWA studies have specifically addressed this co-occurrence, pinpointing to some promising pleiotropic genes, loci and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), but the research field is in urgent need for better designed and powered studies to tackle this complex issue. We propose that future studies examining shared familial etiological factors for ADHD and ASD use a family-based design in which the same phenotypic (ADHD and ASD), candidate endophenotypic, and environmental measurements are obtained from all family members. Multivariate multi-level models are probably best suited for the statistical analysis.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-010-0108-6