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Molecular Genetics of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

      Results of behavioral genetic and molecular genetic studies have converged to suggest that both genetic and nongenetic factors contribute to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We review this literature, with a particular emphasis on molecular genetic studies. Family, twin, and adoption studies provide compelling evidence that genes play a strong role in mediating susceptibility to ADHD. This fact is most clearly seen in the 20 extant twin studies, which estimate the heritability of ADHD to be .76. Molecular genetic studies suggest that the genetic architecture of ADHD is complex. The few genome-wide scans conducted thus far are not conclusive. In contrast, the many candidate gene studies of ADHD have produced substantial evidence implicating several genes in the etiology of the disorder. For the eight genes for which the same variant has been studied in three or more case-control or family-based studies, seven show statistically significant evidence of association with ADHD on the basis of the pooled odds ratio across studies: DRD4, DRD5, DAT, DBH, 5-HTT, HTR1B, and SNAP-25.

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