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Comprehensive Phenotype/Genotype Analyses of the Norepinephrine Transporter Gene (SLC6A2) in ADHD: Relation to Maternal Smoking during Pregnancy
Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Author: Geeta A. Thakur et al.

by Geeta A. Thakur, Sarojini M. Sengupta, Natalie Grizenko, Zia Choudhry, Ridha Joober


Despite strong pharmacological evidence implicating the norepinephrine transporter in ADHD, genetic studies have yielded largely insignificant results. We tested the association between 30 tag SNPs within the SLC6A2 gene and ADHD, with stratification based on maternal smoking during pregnancy, an environmental factor strongly associated with ADHD.


Children (6–12 years old) diagnosed with ADHD according to DSM-IV criteria were comprehensively evaluated with regard to several behavioral and cognitive dimensions of ADHD as well as response to a fixed dose of methylphenidate (MPH) using a double-blind placebo controlled crossover trial. Family-based association tests (FBAT), including categorical and quantitative trait analyses, were conducted in 377 nuclear families.


A highly significant association was observed with rs36021 (and linked SNPs) in the group where mothers smoked during pregnancy. Association was noted with categorical DSM-IV ADHD diagnosis (Z?=?3.74, P?=?0.0002), behavioral assessments by parents (CBCL, P?=?0.00008), as well as restless-impulsive subscale scores on Conners’-teachers (P?=?0.006) and parents (P?=?0.006). In this subgroup, significant association was also observed with cognitive deficits, more specifically sustained attention, spatial working memory, planning, and response inhibition. The risk allele was associated with significant improvement of behavior as measured by research staff (Z?=?3.28, P?=?0.001), parents (Z?=?2.62, P?=?0.009), as well as evaluation in the simulated academic environment (Z?=?3.58, P?=?0.0003).


By using maternal smoking during pregnancy to index a putatively more homogeneous group of ADHD, highly significant associations were observed between tag SNPs within SLC6A2 and ADHD diagnosis, behavioral and cognitive measures relevant to ADHD and response to MPH. This comprehensive phenotype/genotype analysis may help to further understand this complex disorder and improve its treatment. Clinical trial registration information – Clinical and Pharmacogenetic Study of Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);; NCT00483106.