Quantitative and Molecular Genetics of ADHD

Chapter

Abstract

ADHD is a common and highly heritable disorder. Family, twin, and adoption studies confirm a strong genetic influence in risk for ADHD and there has been a great deal of interest in identifying the genetic factors involved. Quantitative genetic studies find that genetic risk for ADHD is continuously distributed throughout the population, that there are both shared and unique genetic influences on inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity, and that ADHD shares genetic risk factors with commonly co-occurring clinical syndromes and traits. ADHD is found at all ages and the underlying genetic architecture is similar across the lifespan. In terms of specific genetic findings, there is consistent evidence of monoamine neurotransmitter involvement with the best evidence coming from genetic markers in or near the dopamine D4 and D5 receptor genes. Recent genome-wide association studies have identified new association findings, including genes involved in cell division, cell adhesion, neuronal migration, and neuronal plasticity. However, as yet, none of these pass genome-wide levels of significance. Finally, recent data confirm an important role for rare copy number variants, including those that are found in schizophrenia and autism. Future work should use genetic association data to determine the nature of the cognitive, neuronal and cellular processes that mediate genetic risks on behaviour, and identify environmental factors that interact with genetic risks for ADHD.

Keywords

ADHD Association studies Copy number variants Genes Heritability Twin studies 

Abbreviations

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

CEPH

Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain

CNV

Copy number variants

DAT1

Dopamine transporter (SLC/6A3)

DZ

Dizygotic

EAA

Equal environments assumption

GWAS

Genomewide association studies

IMAGE

International Multisite ADHD Genetics

Met

Methionine

MV

Multivariate

MZ

Monozygotic

NICE

National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence (UK)

RD

Reading disability

RT

Response time

SNP

Single nucleotide polymorphism

TDT

Transmission disequilibrium test

Val

Valine

VNTR

Variable number tandem repeat

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MRC Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry, Institute of PsychiatryKings College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Mental Health Sciences Unit, Faculty of Brain SciencesUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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