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Am J Med Genet. 2001 Dec 8;105(8):686-9.

No association between CHRNA7 microsatellite markers and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroscience, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly heritable, common psychiatric disorder of childhood that probably involves several genes. There are several lines of evidence suggesting that the nicotinic system may be functionally significant in ADHD. First, nicotine promotes the release of dopamine and has been shown to improve attention in adults with ADHD, smokers, and nonsmokers. Second, ADHD is a significant risk factor for early initiation of cigarette smoking in children and maternal cigarette smoking appears to be a risk factor for ADHD. Finally, animal studies in rats and monkeys also suggest that nicotine may be involved in attentional systems and locomotor activity. The nicotinic system has previously been studied in schizophrenia where the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 7 subunit gene (CHRNA7) has been implicated in decreased P50 inhibition and attentional disturbances in patients with schizophrenia and in many of their nonschizophrenic relatives. Three known microsatellite markers (D15S165, D15S1043, and D15S1360) near the nicotinic acetylcholine alpha 7 receptor gene, CHRNA7, were studied in 206 ADHD parent-proband trios of children aged 5-16 with ADHD according to DSM-IV criteria. Children with known major medical or psychiatric conditions or mental retardation (IQ < 70) were excluded from the study. Markers D15S165 and D15S1360 were in linkage disequilibrium. The extended Transmission Disequilibrium Test analyses demonstrated no evidence that variation at the microsatellite markers D15S1360, D15S1043, and D15S165 influences susceptibility to ADHD. However, it remains possible that the CHRNA7 gene and other nicotinic system genes may be involved in conferring susceptibility to ADHD.

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