The serotonin transporter gene as a QTL for ADHD

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2005 Apr 5;134B(1):42-7. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.30118.


Molecular studies of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have identified susceptibility genes for the categorically diagnosed disorder using operational diagnostic criteria. Here, we take a QTL approach to mapping genes for ADHD using a composite continuous index of ADHD behavior in a large epidemiological sample. Previous studies of clinical ADHD suggest that two functional polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4), one in the 5'-regulatory region of the gene (5-HTTLPR) and the other a VNTR (5-HTTVNTR) in the second intron, as well as a single nucleotide polymorphism in the 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR SNP), may be associated with the disorder. Here, we investigate these polymorphisms as well as an additional ten SNPs spread across the gene. We found significant association with the long (L) allele of the 5-HTTLPR; P = 0.019, but neither the 5-HTTVNTR nor the 3'-UTR SNP were significantly associated. Significant associations (P < 0.05) were found for a further 5 the 10 other markers tested. We found evidence for two haplotype blocks spanning the region. We found strong evidence for association with the first haplotype block (comprised of four markers), with the significance of a combined primary and secondary test of association reaching an empirical P value = 0.0054 for the global test and an empirical P value = 0.00081 for the largest local test. Thus, we show here that SLC6A4, which has a major influence on brain serotonin availability, may be a QTL for ADHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alleles
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Introns / genetics
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins