Epigenetics: Genetics Versus Life Experiences

  • Josephine Elia
  • Seth Laracy
  • Jeremy Allen
  • Jenelle Nissley-Tsiopinis
  • Karin Borgmann-Winter
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 9)

Abstract

Epigenetics is the field of research that examines alterations in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA sequence. ADHD is highly heritable; however, epigenetics are considered relevant in potentially explaining the variance not accounted for by genetic influence. In this chapter, some of the well-known processes of epigenetics, such as chromosome organization, DNA methylation, and effects of transcriptional factors are reviewed along with studies examining the role of these processes in the pathophysiology of ADHD. Potential epigenetic factors conferring risk for ADHD at various developmental stages, such as alcohol, tobacco, toxins, medications, and psychosocial stressor are discussed. Animal studies investigating ADHD medications and changes in CNS Gene/Protein Expression are also explored since they provide insight into the neuronal pathways involved in ADHD pathophysiology. The current limited data suggest that identification of the epigenetic processes involved in ADHD is extremely important and may lead to potential interventions that may be applied to modify the expression of deleterious, as well as protective, genes.

Keywords

ADHD DNA methylation Epigentics Gene transcription Gene–environment 

Abbreviations

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

alpha2A-AR

α2A-Adrenoceptor

ApT

Adenine-thymine base pair

CD

Conduct disorder

CpG

Cytosine-guanine base pair

CREB

Cyclic nucleotide response element binding protein

DAT

Dopamine transporter

DES

Diethylstilbestrol

DZ

Dizygotic

GATA-1

Erythroid transcription factor

GC

Guanine-cytosine

hERG

Human Ether-a-go-go

IEG

Immediate early gene

IMAGE

International Multicentre ADHD Genetics Project

MAOB

Monoamine oxidase-B

MPH

Methylphenidate

MSN-D1′

Medium sized spiny neurons expressing dopamine D1 receptors

MZ

Monozygotic

ODD

Oppositional defiant disorder

VNTR

Variable number tandem repeat

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josephine Elia
    • 1
  • Seth Laracy
    • 1
  • Jeremy Allen
    • 1
  • Jenelle Nissley-Tsiopinis
    • 1
  • Karin Borgmann-Winter
    • 1
  1. 1.The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Science CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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