Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly heritable and common disorder that partly reflects disturbed dopaminergic function in the brain. Recent genetic studies have shown that candidate genes involved in dopamine signaling and metabolism contribute to ADHD susceptibility. We have initiated genetic studies in a unique cohort of 158 ADHD and 81 control adult subjects who have been followed longitudinally since childhood in the Milwaukee study of ADHD. From this cohort, genetic analysis was performed in 105 Caucasian subjects with ADHD and 68 age and ethnicity-matched controls for the DRD4 exon 3 VNTR, the SLC6A3 (DAT1) 3' UTR VNTR, dopamine beta hydroxylase (DBH) TaqI A polymorphism, and the DBH GT microsatellite repeat polymorphism that has been quantitatively associated with serum levels of DBH activity, but not previously studied in ADHD. Results indicate a significant association between the DBH TaqI A1 allele and ADHD (P = 0.018) with a relative risk of 1.33. The DBH GT repeat 4 allele, which is associated with high serum levels of DBH, occurred more frequently in the ADHD group than controls, but the difference did not reach statistical significance. Associations were not found with the SLC6A3 10 repeat or DRD4 7 repeat alleles. These results indicate that the DBH TaqI A allele, or another polymorphism in linkage disequilibrium with this allele, may confer increased susceptibility towards ADHD.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.