Limited success has been achieved through previous ADHD linkage scans which were all designed to map genes underlying the dichotomous phenotype. The International Multi-centre ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) project performed a whole genome linkage scan specifically designed to map ADHD quantitative trait loci.
A set of 1,094 single selected Caucasian ADHD nuclear families was genotyped on a highly accurate and informative SNP panel. Two quantitative traits measuring the children’s symptoms in home and school settings were collected and standardized according to a population sample of 8000 children to reflect the developmental nature and gender prevalence difference of ADHD. Univariate linkage test was performed on both traits and their mean score.
A significant common linkage locus was found at chromosome 1p36 with a locus-specific heritability of 5.1% and a genomewide empirical p<0.04. Setting-specific suggestive linkage signals were also found: LOD=2.2 at 9p23 for home trait and LOD=2.6 at 11q21 for school trait.
These results indicate that given large samples with proper phenotypic measures, searching for ADHD genes with a QTL strategy is an important alternative to using the clinical diagnosis. The fact that our linkage region 1p36 overlaps with the dyslexia QTL DYX8 further suggests it is potentially a pleiotropic locus for ADHD and dyslexia.
Callous–unemotional (CU) traits are currently viewed as the defining signs and symptoms of juvenile psychopathy. It is unclear, however, whether CU traits have validity only in the context of conduct disorder (CD) as proposed by Frick and Moffitt (A proposal to the DSM-V childhood disorders and the ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders work groups to include a specifier to the diagnosis of conduct disorder based on the presence of callous–unemotional traits, American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC, 2010), or also outside CD, either in combination with other forms of psychopathology or as a stand-alone construct.
The current review systematically studied the existent literature on CU traits in juveniles to examine their validity inside and outside CD according to the framework regarding the validity of a psychiatric diagnosis provided by Robins and Guze (Am J Psychiatry 126:983–987, 1970).
Inside youth with conduct problems, and CD specifically, it seems that CU traits meet the Robins and Guze criteria. As many of the reviewed studies included youth with ODD and ADHD as well, there are indications the same might be true for ODD and ADHD, although probably to a lesser extent. In other disorders, CU traits may be present as well, but their role is not firmly established. As stand-alone construct, data are lacking or are scarce on all of the above-mentioned criteria.
CU traits are a useful specifier in CD, and possibly also in disruptive behaviour disorders (DBDs) more generally. High CU traits outside DBDs exist but it is as yet unknown if there is a clinical need for defining CU traits as a stand-alone construct.
Callous–unemotional traits; Juvenile psychopathy; Conduct disorder; Validity
This study of gaze patterns in very young children with autism and their parents included 23 cases (with 16 fathers and 19 mothers) and 46 controls (with 14 fathers and 28 mothers). Children (mean age 3.3 ± 1.5
years) with autism met DSM-IV and ADOS-G diagnostic criteria. The participants' gaze patterns were recorded while they viewed four simple movies that did not feature people. In children, severity of autism is related to spending more time watching irrelevant regions in one of the four movies. The mothers of children with autism showed an atypical pattern for three movies, whereas the fathers of children with autism did not show an atypical gaze pattern. The gaze pattern of the mothers was positively correlated with that of their children. The atypical viewing pattern of autistic individuals appears not to be restricted to people and social situations but is also seen in other situations, suggesting that there is a perceptual broad autism phenotype.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often co-occur. Given the previously found familiality of ASD symptoms in children with ADHD, addressing these symptoms may be useful for genetic association studies, especially for candidate gene findings that have not been consistently replicated for ADHD.
We studied the association of the catechol o-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism and the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4/SERT/5-HTT) 5-HTTLPR insertion/deletion polymorphism with ASD symptoms in children with ADHD, and whether these polymorphisms would interact with pre- and perinatal risk factors, i.e., maternal smoking during pregnancy and low birth weight. Analyses were performed using linear regression in 207 Dutch participants with combined type ADHD of the International Multicenter ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) study, and repeated in an independent ADHD sample (n = 439) selected from the TRracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS). Dependent variables were the total and subscale scores of the Children's Social Behavior Questionnaire (CSBQ).
No significant main effects of COMT Val158Met, 5-HTTLPR, maternal smoking during pregnancy and low birth weight on ASD symptoms were found. However, the COMT Val/Val genotype interacted with maternal smoking during pregnancy in increasing stereotyped behavior in the IMAGE sample (p = 0.008); this interaction reached significance in the TRAILS sample after correction for confounders (p = 0.02). In the IMAGE sample, the 5-HTTLPR S/S genotype interacted with maternal smoking during pregnancy, increasing problems in social interaction (p = 0.02), and also interacted with low birth weight, increasing rigid behavior (p = 0.03). Findings for 5-HTTLPR in the TRAILS sample were similar, albeit for related CSBQ subscales.
These findings suggest gene-environment interaction effects on ASD symptoms in children with ADHD.
Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Autism Spectrum Disorder; gene environment; 5-HTT; COMT
Although twin and family studies have shown Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to be highly heritable, genetic variants influencing the trait at a genome-wide significant level have yet to be identified. As prior genome-wide association scans (GWAS) have not yielded significant results, we conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies to boost statistical power.
We used data from four projects: a) the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), b) phase I of the International Multicenter ADHD Genetics project (IMAGE), c) phase II of IMAGE (IMAGE II), and d) the Pfizer funded study from the University of California, Los Angeles, Washington University and the Massachusetts General Hospital (PUWMa). The final sample size consisted of 2,064 trios, 896 cases and 2,455 controls. For each study, we imputed HapMap SNPs, computed association test statistics and transformed them to Z-scores, and then combined weighted Z-scores in a meta-analysis.
No genome-wide significant associations were found, although an analysis of candidate genes suggests they may be involved in the disorder.
Given that ADHD is a highly heritable disorder, our negative results suggest that the effects of common ADHD risk variants must, individually, be very small or that other types of variants, e.g. rare ones, account for much of the disorder’s heritability.
ADHD; meta-analysis; association; GWAS; genetics
The genetic basis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms in children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was addressed using a genome-wide linkage approach.
Participants of the International Multi-Center ADHD Genetics study comprising 1143 probands with ADHD and 1453 siblings were analyzed. The total and subscale scores of the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) were used as quantitative traits for multipoint regression-based linkage analyses on 5407 autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms applying MERLIN-regress software, both without and with inclusion of ADHD symptom scores as covariates.
The analyses without ADHD symptom scores as covariates resulted in 3 suggestive linkage signals, i.e., on chromosomes 15q24, 16p13, and 18p11. Inclusion of ADHD symptom scores as covariates resulted in additional suggestive loci on chromosomes 7q36 and 12q24, whereas the LOD score of the locus on chromosome 15q decreased below the threshold for suggestive linkage. The loci on 7q, 16p, and 18p were found for the SCQ restricted & repetitive subscale, that on 15q was found for the SCQ communication subscale, and that on 12q for the SCQ total score.
Our findings suggest that QTLs identified in this study are ASD specific, although the 15q QTL potentially has pleiotropic effects for ADHD and ASD. This study confirms that genetic factors influence ASD traits along a continuum of severity, as loci potentially underlying ASD symptoms in children with ADHD were identified even though subjects with autism had been excluded from the IMAGE sample, and supports the hypothesis that differential genetic factors underlie the three ASD dimensions.
ADHD; autism spectrum disorder; linkage; comorbidity
Motor problems occur in 30% to 50% of children with ADHD, and have a severe impact on daily life. In clinical practice there seems to be little attention for this comorbidity with the possible consequence that these motor problems go undertreated.
Clinical interview and questionnaire survey of treatment by physiotherapy and factors predicting treatment of motor problems in 235 children with ADHD and 108 controls.
Half of motor-affected children had received physiotherapy. Treated children had more severe motor problems, and less frequently presented with comorbid anxiety and conduct disorder. Treated and untreated children were similar in age, and rated similarly on ADHD inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive scales and parental socio-economic status.
Currently, undertreatment of motor problems in ADHD occurs. Behavioural factors play a role in referral and intervention.
ADHD; motor problems; children; developmental coordination disorder questionnaire; comorbidity; physiotherapy
The dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) 7-repeat allele and maternal smoking during pregnancy are both considered as risk factors in the aetiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but few studies have been conducted on their interactive effects in causing ADHD. The purpose of this study is to examine the gene by environment (G×E) interaction of the DRD4 7-repeat allele and smoking during pregnancy on ADHD and oppositional behavior in families from the International Multicenter ADHD Genetics project; and further, to test the hypothesis that the direction of effect of the DRD4 7-repeat allele differs between ADHD affected and unaffected children.
Linear mixed models were used to assess main and interactive effects of the DRD4 7-repeat allele and smoking during pregnancy in 539 ADHD-affected children and their 407 unaffected siblings, aged 6–17 years.
There was some evidence pointing to differential effects of the DRD4 7-repeat allele on ADHD and oppositional symptoms in the affected (fewer symptoms) and unaffected children (increasing ADHD symptoms of teacher ratings). Affected children were more often exposed to prenatal smoking than unaffected children. There were limited main effects of prenatal smoking on severity of symptoms. Given the number of tests performed, no indication was found for G×E interactions.
Despite the large sample size, no G×E interactions were found. The impact of the DRD4 7-repeat allele might differ, depending on affected status and rater. This finding is discussed in terms of differences in the activity of the dopaminergic system and of different genes involved in raterspecific behaviors.
Dopamine receptor D4 gene; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); maternal smoking during pregnancy; gene by environment interaction
This randomized controlled trial compared results obtained after 12 months of nonintensive parent training plus care-as-usual and care-as-usual alone. The training focused on stimulating joint attention and language skills and was based on the intervention described by Drew et al. (Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatr 11:266–272, 2002). Seventy-five toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (65 autism, 10 PDD-NOS, mean age = 34.4 months, SD = 6.2) were enrolled. Analyses were conducted on a final sample of 67 children (lost to follow-up = 8). No significant intervention effects were found for any of the primary (language), secondary (global clinical improvement), or mediating (child engagement, early precursors of social communication, or parental skills) outcome variables, suggesting that the ‘Focus parent training’ was not of additional value to the more general care-as-usual.
Autism; Parent training; Toddler; Early intervention; Randomized controlled trial
The aims of the current study were to examine whether early growth abnormalities are (a) comparable in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other childhood psychiatric disorders, and (b) specific to the brain or generalized to the whole body. Head circumference, height, and weight were measured during the first 19 months of life in 129 children with ASD and 59 children with non-ASD psychiatric disorders. Both groups showed comparable abnormal patterns of growth compared to population norms, especially regarding height and head circumference in relation to height. Thus abnormal growth appears to be related to psychiatric disorders in general and is mainly expressed as an accelerated growth of height not matched by an increase in weight or head circumference.
Autism; Growth; Head circumference; Height; Weight; Endophenotype
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common behavioural disorder in children, may be associated with comorbid physical and sleep complaints. Dietary intervention studies have shown convincing evidence of efficacy in reducing ADHD symptoms in children. In this pilot study, we investigated the effects of an elimination diet on physical and sleep complaints in children with ADHD. A group of 27 children (3.8–8.5 years old), who all met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for ADHD, were assigned randomly to either a diet group (15/27) or a control group (12/27). The diet group followed a 5-week elimination diet; the control group adhered to their normal diet. Parents of both groups had to keep an extended diary and had to monitor the behaviour and the physical and sleep complaints of their child conscientiously. The primary endpoint was the clinical response, i.e. a decrease of physical and sleep complaints, at the end of the trial, based on parent ratings on a Physical Complaints Questionnaire. The number of physical and sleep complaints was significantly decreased in the diet group compared to the control group (p < 0.001), with a reduction in the diet group of 77% (p < 0.001, effect size = 2.0) and in the control group of 17% (p = 0.08, effect size = 0.2). Specific complaints that were significantly reduced were in three domains: headaches or bellyaches, unusual thirst or unusual perspiration, and sleep complaints. The reduction of complaints seemed to occur independently of the behavioural changes (p = 0.1). However, the power of this comparison was low. A positive correlation existed between the reduction of physical and behavioural symptoms (p < 0.01). The reduction did not differ between children with or without an atopic constitution (p = 0.7). An elimination diet may be an effective instrument to reduce physical complaints in children with ADHD, but more research is needed to determine the effects of food on (functional) somatic symptoms in children with and without ADHD. This trial was registered as an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial, ISRCTN47247160.
ADHD; Children; Elimination diet; Physical complaints; Sleep problems
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorders. Evidence indicates both disorders co-occur with a high frequency, in 20–50% of children with ADHD meeting criteria for ASD and in 30-80% of ASD children meeting criteria for ADHD. This review will provide an overview on all available studies [family based, twin, candidate gene, linkage, and genome wide association (GWA) studies] shedding light on the role of shared genetic underpinnings of ADHD and ASD. It is concluded that family and twin studies do provide support for the hypothesis that ADHD and ASD originate from partly similar familial/genetic factors. Only a few candidate gene studies, linkage studies and GWA studies have specifically addressed this co-occurrence, pinpointing to some promising pleiotropic genes, loci and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), but the research field is in urgent need for better designed and powered studies to tackle this complex issue. We propose that future studies examining shared familial etiological factors for ADHD and ASD use a family-based design in which the same phenotypic (ADHD and ASD), candidate endophenotypic, and environmental measurements are obtained from all family members. Multivariate multi-level models are probably best suited for the statistical analysis.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Autism spectrum disorder; Molecular genetics; Shared heritability
Recently, Gotham et al. (2007) proposed revised algorithms for the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) with improved diagnostic validity. The aim of the current study was to replicate predictive validity, factor structure, and correlations with age and verbal and nonverbal IQ of the ADOS revised algorithms for Modules 1 and 2 in a large independent Dutch sample (N = 532). Results showed that the improvement of diagnostic validity was most apparent for autism, except in very young or low functioning children. Results for other autism spectrum disorders were less consistent. Overall, these findings support the use of the more homogeneous revised algorithms, with the use of similar items across developmental cells making it easier to compare ADOS scores within and between individuals.
Autism; ADOS; Algorithm; Sensitivity; Specificity; Diagnosis
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but data on its adverse effects on cognitive functioning are sparse and inconsistent. Since the effect of maternal smoking during pregnancy may be due to correlated genetic risk factors rather than being a pure environmental effect, we examined the effect of prenatal exposure to smoking on attentional control, taking into account the effects of both maternal and paternal smoking, and examined whether these effects were genetically mediated by parental genotypes. We further examined whether the effect of prenatal exposure to smoking on attentional control interacted with genotypes of the child. Participants were 79 children with ADHD, ascertained for the International Multi-centre ADHD Gene project (IMAGE), and 105 normal controls. Attentional control was assessed by a visual continuous performance task. Three genetic risk factors for ADHD (DRD4 7-repeat allele of the exon 3 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR), DAT1 10/10 genotype of the VNTR located in the 3′ untranslated region, and the DAT1 6/6 genotype of the intron 8 VNTR) were included in the analyses. Paternal smoking had a negative effect on attentional control in children with ADHD and this effect appeared to be mediated by genetic risk factors. The prenatal smoking effect did not interact with genotypes of the child. Maternal smoking had no main effect on attentional control, which may be due to lower smoking rates. This study suggests that the effects of paternal smoking on attentional control in children with ADHD should be considered a proxy for ADHD and/or smoking risk genes. Future studies should examine if the results can be generalized to other cognitive domains.
ADHD; Genetics; Smoking; Pregnancy; Response time variability
We aimed to assess which comorbid problems (oppositional defiant behaviors, anxiety, autistic traits, motor coordination problems, and reading problems) were most associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); to determine whether these comorbid problems shared executive and motor problems on an endophenotype level with ADHD; and to determine whether executive functioning (EF)—and motor-endophenotypes supported the hypothesis that ADHD with comorbid problems is a qualitatively different phenotype than ADHD without comorbid problems. An EF—and a motor-endophenotype were formed based on nine neuropsychological tasks administered to 816 children from ADHD—and control-families. Additional data on comorbid problems were gathered using questionnaires. Results indicated that oppositional defiant behaviors appeared the most important comorbid problems of ADHD, followed by autistic traits, and than followed by motor coordination problems, anxiety, and reading problems. Both the EF—and motor-endophenotype were correlated and cross-correlated in siblings to autistic traits, motor coordination problems and reading problems, suggesting ADHD and these comorbid problems may possibly share familial/genetic EF and motor deficits. No such results were found for oppositional defiant behaviors and anxiety. ADHD in co-occurrence with comorbid problems may not be best seen as a distinct subtype of ADHD, but further research is warranted.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9312-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder; Comorbidity; Endophenotype; Phenotype; DSM-V
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) shares a genetic basis with motor coordination problems and probably motor timing problems. In line with this, comparable problems in motor timing should be observed in first degree relatives and might, therefore, form a suitable endophenotypic candidate. This hypothesis was investigated in 238 ADHD-families (545 children) and 147 control-families (271 children). A motor timing task was administered, in which children had to produce a 1,000 ms interval. In addition to this task, two basic motor tasks were administered to examine speed and variability of motor output, when no timing component was required. Results indicated that variability in motor timing is a useful endophenotypic candidate: It was clearly associated with ADHD, it was also present in non-affected siblings, and it correlated within families. Accuracy (under- versus over-production) in motor timing appeared less useful: Even though accuracy was associated with ADHD (probands and affected siblings had a tendency to under-produce the 1,000 ms interval compared to controls), non-affected siblings did not differ from controls and sibling correlations were only marginally significant. Slow and variable motor output without timing component also appears present in ADHD, but not in non-affected siblings, suggesting these deficits not to be related to a familial vulnerability for ADHD. Deficits in motor timing could not be explained by deficits already present in basic motor output without a timing component. This suggests abnormalities in motor timing were predominantly related to deficient motor timing processes and not to general deficient motor functioning. The finding that deficits in motor timing run in ADHD-families suggests this to be a fruitful domain for further exploration in relation to the genetic underpinnings of ADHD.
ADHD; Siblings; Endophenotype; Motor timing; Motor speed; Motor variability
It has been hypothesized that genetic and environmental factors relate to psychiatric disorders through the effect of intermediating, vulnerability traits called endophenotypes. The study had a threefold aim: to examine the predictive validity of an endophenotypic construct for the ADHD diagnosis, to test whether the magnitude of group differences at the endophenotypic and phenotypic level is comparable, and to investigate whether four factors (gender, age, IQ, rater bias) have an effect (moderation or mediation) on the relation between endophenotype and phenotype.
Ten neurocognitive tasks were administered to 143 children with ADHD, 68 non-affected siblings, and 120 control children (first-borns) and 132 children with ADHD, 78 non-affected siblings, and 113 controls (second-borns) (5 – 19 years). The task measures have been investigated previously for their endophenotypic viability and were combined to one component which was labeled 'the endophenotypic construct': one measure representative of endophenotypic functioning across several domains of functioning.
The endophenotypic construct classified children with moderate accuracy (about 50% for each of the three groups). Non-affected children differed as much from controls at the endophenotypic as at the phenotypic level, but affected children displayed a more severe phenotype than endophenotype. Although a potentially moderating effect (age) and several mediating effects (gender, age, IQ) were found affecting the relation between endophenotypic construct and phenotype, none of the effects studied could account for the finding that affected children had a more severe phenotype than endophenotype.
Endophenotypic functioning is moderately predictive of the ADHD diagnosis, though findings suggest substantial overlap exists between endophenotypic functioning in the groups of affected children, non-affected siblings, and controls. Results suggest other factors may be crucial and aggravate the ADHD symptoms in affected children.
Intelligence is a highly heritable trait for which it has proven difficult to identify the actual genes. In the past decade, five whole-genome linkage scans have suggested genomic regions important to human intelligence; however, so far none of the responsible genes or variants in those regions have been identified. Apart from these regions, a handful of candidate genes have been identified, although most of these are in need of replication. The recent growth in publicly available data sets that contain both whole genome association data and a wealth of phenotypic data, serves as an excellent resource for fine mapping and candidate gene replication. We used the publicly available data of 947 families participating in the International Multi-Centre ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) study to conduct an in silico fine mapping study of previously associated genomic locations, and to attempt replication of previously reported candidate genes for intelligence. Although this sample was ascertained for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intelligence quotient (IQ) scores were distributed normally. We tested 667 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within 15 previously reported candidate genes for intelligence and 29451 SNPs in five genomic loci previously identified through whole genome linkage and association analyses. Significant SNPs were tested in four independent samples (4,357 subjects), one ascertained for ADHD, and three population-based samples. Associations between intelligence and SNPs in the ATXN1 and TRIM31 genes and in three genomic locations showed replicated association, but only in the samples ascertained for ADHD, suggesting that these genetic variants become particularly relevant to IQ on the background of a psychiatric disorder. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
genetic association; cognition; candidate genes; ADHD; ALSPAC
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common, highly heritable psychiatric disorder. Because of its multifactorial etiology, however, identifying the genes involved has been difficult. The authors followed up on recent findings suggesting that rare copy number variants (CNVs) may be important for ADHD etiology.
The authors performed a genome-wide analysis of large, rare CNVs (<1% population frequency) in children with ADHD (N=896) and comparison subjects (N=2,455) from the IMAGE II Consortium.
The authors observed 1,562 individually rare CNVs >100 kb in size, which segregated into 912 independent loci. Overall, the rate of rare CNVs >100 kb was 1.15 times higher in ADHD case subjects relative to comparison subjects, with duplications spanning known genes showing a 1.2-fold enrichment. In accordance with a previous study, rare CNVs >500 kb showed the greatest enrichment (1.28-fold). CNVs identified in ADHD case subjects were significantly enriched for loci implicated in autism and in schizophrenia. Duplications spanning the CHRNA7 gene at chromosome 15q13.3 were associated with ADHD in single-locus analysis. This finding was consistently replicated in an additional 2,242 ADHD case subjects and 8,552 comparison subjects from four independent cohorts from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Presence of the duplication at 15q13.3 appeared to be associated with comorbid conduct disorder.
These findings support the enrichment of large, rare CNVs in ADHD and implicate duplications at 15q13.3 as a novel risk factor for ADHD. With a frequency of 0.6% in the populations investigated and a relatively large effect size (odds ratio=2.22, 95% confidence interval=1.5–3.6), this locus could be an important contributor to ADHD etiology.