Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 218–231 | Cite as

The Genetics of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome: a Common Aetiological Basis with Comorbid Disorders?

  • Iordanis Karagiannidis
  • Fotis Tsetsos
  • Shanmukha Sampath Padmanabhuni
  • John Alexander
  • Marianthi Georgitsi
  • Peristera Paschou
Child and Developmental Psychiatry (M Grados, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Developmental Psychiatry


Purpose of Review

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (TS) is a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by multiple motor and vocal tics, commonly associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Here, we summarize and discuss evidence pointing to a shared genetic basis among TS, OCD, ADHD and ASD.

Recent Findings

TS has a complex genetic aetiology, with many genes interacting with each other and with environmental factors in order to lead to the onset of symptoms. Only 10–13.5 % of cases can be referred to as pure TS (i.e. tics only); the vast majority of patients present with psychiatric comorbidities (ADHD, OCD, ASD). We review evidence that supports the hypothesis of a shared aetiological background across neurodevelopmental phenotypes.


This review highlights the importance of thinking across diagnostic categories when attempting to understand the neurobiology of neurodevelopmental phenotypes. Analysing across a spectrum of intermediate phenotypes rather than on ends of a distribution may hold the promise to unravel the aetiology of TS and other neurodevelopmental disorders.


Gilles de la Tourette syndrome Genetics Autism spectrum disorders Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD Obsessive–compulsive disorder OCD Cross-disorder analysis 



This work was supported by the European Union under the FP7-PEOPLE programme (TS-EUROTRAIN, GA no. 316978).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Mr. Iordanis Karagiannidis, Mr. Fotis Tsetsos, Mr. Shanmukha Sampath Padmanabhuni, Mr. John Alexander, Dr. Marianthi Georgitsi and Dr. Peristera Paschou declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iordanis Karagiannidis
    • 1
  • Fotis Tsetsos
    • 1
  • Shanmukha Sampath Padmanabhuni
    • 1
  • John Alexander
    • 1
  • Marianthi Georgitsi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peristera Paschou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and GeneticsDemocritus University of Thrace, PanepistimioupoliAlexandroupoliGreece
  2. 2.Department of MedicineAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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