Nav: Home

Discovery of the first common genetic risk factors for ADHD

November 27, 2018

A global team of researchers has found the first common genetic risk factors associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a complex condition affecting around 1 in 20 children.

Professor Anita Thapar, from Cardiff University, who leads an ADHD research group as part of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, said: "This study marks a very important step in beginning to understand the genetic and biological underpinnings of ADHD.

"The genetic risk variants related to this condition play a significant role in brain-related and other core biological processes. The next step is to determine the exact role of these genes in ADHD to help us inform better treatments to support those affected by the condition."

The team analysed genetic information from over 20,000 people affected with ADHD and over 35,000 people without the condition, the largest genetic study of ADHD to date.

Dr Joanna Martin, a research associate based at Cardiff University's MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, said: "We identified 12 genomic regions at which people with ADHD differed compared to unaffected individuals, and several of these regions are in or near genes with a known relationship to biological processes involved in healthy brain development."

Further analyses showed that genetic risk for ADHD is shared with risk for other psychiatric and physical disorders, including depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes and lower levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.

The researchers also found that diagnosed ADHD appears to share much of the same genetic background as the traits of ADHD, like inattention and fidgetiness, that can be measured in the general population.

Working with the Early Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology Consortium (EAGLE), and researchers at Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), they compared the genetic risk for diagnosed ADHD with genetic markers associated with traits of ADHD in over 20,000 children and found a high correlation between the two, at around 97%.

"The correlation between these rather different definitions of ADHD suggests that clinically diagnosed ADHD may be the severe end of a continuous distribution of symptoms in the general population," explained Dr Martin.

The collaboration consisted of European, North American and Chinese research groups that are part of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), as well as researchers from the Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research (iPSYCH) in Denmark.

Professor Anita Thapar said: "This is a landmark study because it involves patients from all over the world. This large number of patient samples has been lacking for ADHD, meaning our understanding of ADHD genetics has lagged behind physical disorders and other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and depression. Thanks in large part to Denmark, this is beginning to change.

"Every person with ADHD who has participated in research is making a real difference to advancing our understanding of the condition, and we hope this study leads to higher levels of participation and a greater interest from the UK in supporting ADHD research."

Although the 12 genomic signals identified in this study are important, they capture only a very small amount of the risk for ADHD. Collectively, common genetic factors accounted for approximately 22% of the risk of ADHD. The role of other sources of genetic risk, for example, rarer genetic changes, as well as environmental factors will also be important to examine in future research studies.

The study 'Discovery of the First Genome-Wide Significant Risk Loci for ADHD' is published in Nature Genetics.
-end-


Cardiff University

Related Adhd Articles:

Autism and ADHD share genes
Researchers from the national psychiatric project iPSYCH have found that autism and ADHD share changes in the same genes.
ADHD across racial/ethnic groups
This study of patients from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds who received care at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health system looked at how common attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses were over a 10-year period across seven racial/ethnic groups.
Cycles of reward: New insight into ADHD treatment
Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in collaboration with scientists at the University of Otago and the University of Auckland in New Zealand, investigated the actions of the drug in rats.
Young mums more likely to have kids with ADHD
Young mothers have a greater chance of having a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) according to new research from the University of South Australia.
ADHD medication: How much is too much for a hyperactive child?
When children with ADHD don't respond well to Methylphenidate (MPH, also known as Ritalin) doctors often increase the dose.
Antipsychotic use in youths with ADHD is low, but still cause for concern
A new study eased fears about the proportion of youths with ADHD taking antipsychotic drugs, but still found that many prescriptions may be inappropriate.
How stimulant treatment prevents serious outcomes of ADHD
Analysis quantifies the extent which stimulant treatment reduces serious outcomes in children and young adults with ADHD.
Did Leonardo da Vinci have ADHD?
Leonardo da Vinci produced some of the world's most iconic art, but historical accounts show that he struggled to complete his works.
More sleep may help teens with ADHD focus and organize
Teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from more sleep to help them focus, plan and control their emotions.
Researchers have found the first risk genes for ADHD
A major international collaboration headed by researchers from the Danish iPSYCH project, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium has for the first time identified genetic variants which increase the risk of ADHD.
More ADHD News and ADHD Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.