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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;19(7):549-57. doi: 10.1007/s00787-009-0080-1. Epub 2009 Nov 28.

COMT Val158Met polymorphism and socioeconomic status interact to predict attention deficit/hyperactivity problems in children aged 10-14.

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Department of Child Psychiatry, Eugenio Medea Scientific Institute, via Don Luigi Monza 20, 23842, Bosisio Parini (LC), Italy.


The functional Val158Met COMT polymorphism appears to affect a host of behaviours mediated by the pre-frontal cortex, and has been found associated to the risk for disruptive behaviours including ADHD. Parental socioeconomic status (SES) has also been reported as a predictor for the same childhood disorders. In a general population sample of 575 Italian pre-adolescents aged 10-14, we examined the association of the functional Val158Met COMT polymorphism and SES-both as linear and interactive effects-with oppositional defiant problems, conduct problems, and attention deficit/hyperactivity problems, as defined by the newly established Child Behaviour Check-List/6-18 DSM oriented scales. Multivariate- and subsequent univariate-analysis of covariance showed a significant association of COMT x SES interaction with CBCL 6/18 DOS attention deficit/hyperactivity problems (p = 0.004), and revealed higher scores among those children with Val/Val COMT genotype who belonged to low-SES families. We also found a significant association of SES with attention deficit/hyperactivity problems and conduct problems DOS (p = 0.04 and 0.01, respectively). Our data are consistent with a bulk of recent literature suggesting a role of environmental factors in moderating the contribution of specific genetic polymorphisms to human variability in ADHD. While future investigations will refine and better clarify which specific environmental and genetic mechanisms are at work in influencing the individual risk to ADHD in pre-adolescence, these data may contribute to identify/prevent the risk for ADHD problems in childhood.

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