Behavior Genetics

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 165–174 | Cite as

A Family Based Association Study of DRD4, DAT1, and 5HTT and Continuous Traits of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • L. Cinnamon Bidwell
  • Erik G. Willcutt
  • Matthew B. McQueen
  • John C. DeFries
  • Richard K. Olson
  • Shelley D. Smith
  • Bruce F. Pennington
Original Research


Despite its high heritability, genetic association studies of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have often resulted in somewhat small, inconsistent effects. Refining the ADHD phenotype beyond a dichotomous diagnosis and testing associations with continuous information from the underlying symptom dimensions may result in more consistent genetic findings. This study further examined the association between ADHD and the DRD4, DAT1, and 5HTT genes by testing their association with multivariate phenotypes derived from continuous measures of ADHD symptom severity. DNA was collected in 202 families consisting of at least one ADHD proband and at least one parent or sibling. VNTR polymorphisms of the DRD4 and DAT1 genes were significantly associated with the continuous ADHD phenotype. The association with DRD4 was driven by both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms, while the association with DAT1 was driven primarily by inattentive symptoms. These results use novel methods to build upon important connections between dopamine genes and their final behavioral manifestation as symptoms of ADHD.


ADHD Dopamine FBAT Genetic Serotonin 



This research was supported by NICHD center grant P50 HD-27802 (Center Director: R. K. Olson). The first author was also supported in part during the preparation of this manuscript by NIH grants R01 MH62120, and R01 MH63941 (E.G. Willcutt) and F31 MH078514 (L.C. Bidwell). We extend our deepest gratitude to the Colorado Learning Disabilities Research Center staff and the school personnel and families that participated in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Cinnamon Bidwell
    • 1
  • Erik G. Willcutt
    • 2
    • 3
  • Matthew B. McQueen
    • 2
    • 3
  • John C. DeFries
    • 2
    • 3
  • Richard K. Olson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Shelley D. Smith
    • 4
  • Bruce F. Pennington
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Behavioral GeneticsUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Munroe-Meyer InstituteUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

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