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World J Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;13(5):379-400. doi: 10.3109/15622975.2012.690535.

Biomarkers for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A consensus report of the WFSBP task force on biological markers and the World Federation of ADHD.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany.



Psychiatric "nosology" is largely based on clinical phenomenology using convention-based diagnostic systems not necessarily reflecting neurobiological pathomechanisms. While progress has been made regarding its molecular biology and neuropathology, the phenotypic characterization of ADHD has not improved. Thus, validated biomarkers, more directly linked to the underlying pathology, could constitute an objective measure for the condition.


The task force on biological markers of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) and the World Federation of ADHD commissioned this paper to develop a consensus report on potential biomarkers of ADHD. The criteria for biomarker-candidate evaluation were: (1) sensitivity >80%, (2) specificity >80%, (3) the candidate is reliable, reproducible, inexpensive, non-invasive, easy to use, and (4) confirmed by at least two independent studies in peer-reviewed journals conducted by qualified investigators.


No reliable ADHD biomarker has been described to date, but some promising candidates (e.g., olfactory sensitivity, substantial echogenicity) exist. A problem in the development of ADHD markers is sample heterogeneity due to aetiological and phenotypic complexity and age-dependent co-morbidities.


Most likely, no single ADHD biomarker can be identified. However, the use of a combination of markers may help to reduce heterogeneity and to identify homogeneous subtypes of ADHD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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