The Dopamine Receptor D4 Gene (DRD4) Moderates Family Environmental Effects on ADHD
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- Martel, M.M., Nikolas, M., Jernigan, K. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2011) 39: 1. doi:10.1007/s10802-010-9439-5
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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a prime candidate for exploration of gene-by-environment interaction (i.e., G x E), particularly in relation to dopamine system genes, due to strong evidence that dopamine systems are dysregulated in the disorder. Using a G x E design, we examined whether the DRD4 promoter 120-bp tandem repeat polymorphism, previously associated with ADHD, moderated the effects of inconsistent parenting and marital conflict on ADHD or Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (ODD). Participants were 548 children with ADHD and non-ADHD comparison children and their parents. Homozygosity for the DRD4 promoter 120-bp tandem repeat insertion allele increased vulnerability for ADHD and ODD only in the presence of inconsistent parenting and appeared to increase susceptibility to the influence of increased child self-blame for marital conflict on ADHD inattention. DRD4 genotypes may interact with these proximal family environmental risk factors by increasing the individual’s responsivity to environmental contingencies.