Background: The DBH gene regulates plasma dopamine beta-hydroxylase activity (pDbetaH). Two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), -1021C-->T (rs1611115; SNP1) and +1603C-->T (rs6271; SNP3), independently influence pDbetaH. Another SNP, commonly known as DBH Taq1A (rs2519152; SNP2) is associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in some (but not all) studies. We tested whether 1) SNP2 associates with pDbetaH; and 2) whether linkage disequilibrium (LD) between SNP2 and the other SNPs explains that association.
Methods: Plasma dopamine beta-hydroxylase activity and genotypes at the SNPs were determined in Caucasian subjects (n = 418). Associations to pDbetaH were examined using analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and LD among the SNPs using estimation maximization.
Results: 1) Each polymorphism analyzed alone associated with pDbetaH; 2) SNP2 was in strong LD with SNP1 and SNP3, respectively, but there was no significant LD between SNP1 and SNP3; and 3) analyzed jointly, each SNP contributed significantly and uniquely to plasma DbetaH activity.
Conclusions: 1) SNP2 associates with pDbetaH; 2) SNP2 shows LD with SNP1 and SNP3; 3) most of the association between SNP2 and pDbetaH simply reflects that LD; however, 4) SNP2 also appears to exert a small independent effect on pDbetaH, suggesting that SNP2, or another variant in LD with it, uniquely influences pDbetaH.