ADHD Genetic Variant Found, May Enable Doctors to Individualize Treatment
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a complex neurological condition that is known to have a strong genetic component. However, several factors could go into causing the disorder which leads to symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This is the reason why finding the best treatment option for patients can sometimes be a challenge. Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have located a specific genetic variation that may affect about 10% of ADHD patients, and the finding could enable doctors to individualize treatment.
Study leader Hakon Hakonarson MD PhD, the director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital, and a team of researchers completed a whole-genome analysis of 1,000 children with ADHD and compared them to 4,100 children without the disorder. The scientists were particularly interested in locating copy number variations, or CNVs, which are deletions or duplications of DNA sequences.
Glutamate Nerve Transmission Pathway Affected
The team identified four genes with a significantly higher number of CNVs in children with ADHD. All were members of the glutamate receptor gene family, with the strongest result in GMR5 which affects nerve transmission.
“Members of the GMR gene family, along with genes they interact with, affect nerve transmission, the formation of neurons, and interconnections in the brain, so the fact that children with ADHD are more likely to have alterations in these genes reinforces previous evidence that the GRM pathway is important in ADHD,” said Hakonarson. “Our findings get to the cause of the ADHD symptoms in a subset of children with the disease.”
Hakonarson notes that about 10% of their sample cohort had the genetic condition, so the findings could potentially benefit about half a million US children.
Co-author Josephine Elia MD, a child psychiatrist, was also excited about the “robust finding.” She said that the research may allow for new therapies to be developed that are tailored toward the glutamate brain signaling pathway and would be a step toward individualizing treatment to a child’s genetic profile.
Elia J, et al. Genome-wide copy number variation study associates metabotropic glutamate receptor gene networks with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nature Genetics doi:10.1038/ng.1013
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Image Credit: University of North Texas