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Dopamine genes and ADHD.

  • Author(s): Swanson, JM
  • Flodman, P
  • Kennedy, J
  • Spence, MA
  • Moyzis, R
  • Schuck, S
  • Murias, M
  • Moriarity, J
  • Barr, C
  • Smith, M
  • Posner, M
  • et al.
Abstract

Family, twin, and adoption studies have documented a strong genetic basis for ADHD/HKD, but these studies do not identify specific genes linked to the disorder. Molecular genetic studies can identify allelic variations of specific genes that are functionally associated with ADHD/HKD, and dopamine genes have been the initial candidates based on the site of action of the stimulants drugs, which for a half century have provided the primary pharmacological treatment for ADHD/HKD. Two candidate dopamine genes have been investigated and reported to be associated with ADHD/HKD: the dopamine transporter (DAT1) gene [Cook et al., American Journal of Human Genetics 1995;56:993-998, Gill et al., Molecular Psychiatry 1997;2:311-313] and the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene [LaHoste et al., Molecular Psychiatry 1996;1:121-124: Smalley et al., 1998;3:427-430; Swanson et al., Molecular Psychiatry 1998;3:38-41]. Speculative hypotheses [Swanson and Castellanos, NIH Consensus Development Conference: Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, November 1998. p. 37-42] have suggested that specific alleles of these dopamine genes may alter dopamine transmission in the neural networks implicated in ADHD/HKD (e.g. that the 10-repeat allele of the DAT1 gene may be associated with hyperactive re-uptake of dopamine or that the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 gene may be associated with a subsensitive postsynaptic receptor). These and other variants of the dopamine hypothesis of ADHD will be discussed.

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