Genetics of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2004 Jun;27(2):303-21. doi: 10.1016/S0193-953X(03)00090-X.


Results of behavioral genetic investigations using family twin and adoption studies converge with those of molecular genetic studies in showing that genes influence susceptibility to'attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These finding suggest that genetic mechanisms that predispose individuals to ADHD are complex. It seems likely that the disorder is caused by the combined actions of several genes. It is equally clear that aberrant genes create a vulnerability to the disorder that is not expressed in all environments. The literature about the genetics of adult ADHD is relatively small, but it suggests not only that the persistent form of ADHD is familial, but that it is more familial than the nonpersistent form. More work from twin and molecular genetic studies is needed to determine if the increased familiality of persistent ADHD reflects the actions of genes or of familial environmental causes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adoption
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Serotonin / genetics
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Twin Studies as Topic
  • Twins / genetics


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Serotonin