Dopamine transporter gene variation modulates activation of striatum in youth with ADHD

Neuroimage. 2010 Nov 15;53(3):935-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.12.041. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Polymorphisms in the 3'UTR variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) of exon 15 of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) have been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); moreover, variability in DAT1 3'UTR genotype may contribute to both heterogeneity of the ADHD phenotype and differences in response to stimulant medications. The impact of this VNTR on neuronal function in individuals with ADHD remains unclear despite evidence that the polymorphisms influence dopamine transporter expression. Thus, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the impact of DAT1 3'UTR genotype on brain activation during response inhibition in unmedicated children and adolescents with ADHD. Twenty-one youth with ADHD who were homozygous for the 10-repeat (10R) allele of the DAT1 3'UTR and 12 youth who were carriers of the 9-repeat (9R) allele were scanned while they performed a Go/No-Go task. Response inhibition was modeled by contrasting activation during correct No-Go trials versus correct Go trials. Participants who were homozygous for the DAT1 3'UTR 10R allele and those who had a single 9R allele did not differ on percent of trials with successful inhibition, which was the primary measure of inhibitory control. Yet, youth with the DAT1 3'UTR 10R/10R genotype had significantly greater inhibitory control-related activation than those with one 9R allele in the left striatum, right dorsal premotor cortex, and bilaterally in the temporoparietal cortical junction. These findings provide preliminary evidence that neural activity related to inhibitory control may differ as a function of DAT1 3'UTR genotype in youth with ADHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Child
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • SLC6A3 protein, human