Phenotype studies of the DRD4 gene polymorphisms in ADHD: Association with oppositional defiant disorder and positive family history

Aiveen Kirley, Naomi Lowe, Céline Mullins, Mary McCarron, Grainne Daly, Irwin Waldman, Michael Fitzgerald, Michael Gill, Ziarih Hawi

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The objective of this study was to investigate association of DRD4 polymorphisms with ADHD subtypes for which there is evidence for increased heritability. The genetic variants tested were the 120 bp insertion/deletion, the -616, -521, -376, and the 48 bp DRD4 VNTR. The primary analyses were of association with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and diagnostic subtypes. Secondary analyses of clinical subtype were exploratory in nature and included analysis of association of DRD4 polymorphisms with family history of ADHD. We observed significant association between DRD4 7-repeat allele transmission and ADHD children with comorbid ODD (χ2 = 6.74, df = 1, P = 0-01, OR = 2.45) The DRD4 7-repeat allele was also significantly associated with family history positive ADHD (χ2 =10.12, df = 1, P = 0.0021, OR = 3.57). We observed no significant distortion in the transmission of any of the tested DRD4 variants with inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive subtypes or symptom dimensions. In conclusion, our findings of increased DRD4 7-repeat allele transmission in ODD extend those reported by Holmes et al. [2002: Am J Med Genet Neuropsychiatr 114:150-153]. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report association of the DRD4 7-repeat allele with ADHD children who have a positive family history of ADHD. Overall, the results from this study support the investigation of clinical subtypes in molecular genetic studies of ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Volume131 B
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD
  • DRD4 polymorphisms
  • Endophenotype
  • ODD
  • Transmission disequilibrium test (TDT)

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