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Behav Genet. 2011 Jan;41(1):155-64. doi: 10.1007/s10519-010-9406-5. Epub 2010 Oct 30.

Influence of candidate genes on attention problems in children: a longitudinal study.

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  • 1Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. toos@psy.vu.nl


Attention problems form one of the core characteristics of Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), a multifactorial neurodevelopmental disorder. From twin research it is clear that genes play a considerable role in the etiology and in the stability of ADHD in childhood. Association studies have focused on genes involved in the dopaminergic and serotoninergic systems, but with inconclusive results. This study investigated the effect of 26 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes encoding for serotonin receptors 2A (HTR2A), Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT), Tryptophane Hydroxylase type 2 (TPH2), and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Attention problems (AP) were assessed by parental report at ages 3, 7, 10, and 12 years in more than 16,000 twin pairs. There were 1148 genotyped children with AP data. We developed a longitudinal framework to test the genetic association effect. Based on all phenotypic data, a longitudinal model was formulated with one latent factor loading on all AP measures over time. The broad heritability for the AP latent factor was 82%, and the latent factor explained around 55% of the total phenotypic variance. The association of SNPs with AP was then modeled at the level of this factor. None of the SNPs showed a significant association with AP. The lowest p-value was found for the rs6265 SNP in the BDNF gene (p = 0.035). Overall, our results suggest no evidence for a role of these genes in childhood AP.

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