Li D, Sham PC, Owen MJ, He L. Meta-analysis shows significant association between dopamine system genes and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Hum Mol Genet 15: 2276-2284
Molecular genetic investigations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have found associations with a variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) situated in the 3'-untranslated region of dopamine transporter gene (DAT1), a VNTR in exon 3 of dopamine receptor 4 gene (DRD4) and a microsatellite polymorphism located at 18.5 kb from the 5' end of dopamine receptor 5 gene (DRD5). A number of independent studies have attempted to replicate these findings but the results have been mixed, possibly reflecting inadequate statistical power and the use of different populations and methodologies. In an attempt to clarify this inconsistency, we have combined all the published studies of European and Asian populations up to October 2005 in a meta-analysis to give a comprehensive picture of the role of the three dopamine-related genes using multiple research methods and models. The DRD4 7-repeat (OR=1.34, 95% CI 1.23-1.45, P= 2 x 10(-12)) and 5-repeat (OR=1.68, 95% CI 1.17-2.41, P=0.005) alleles as well as the DRD5 148-bp allele (OR=1.34, 95% CI 1.21-1.49, P= 8 x 10(-8)) confer increased risk of ADHD, whereas the DRD4 4-repeat (OR=0.90, 95% CI 0.84-0.97, P=0.004) and DRD5 136-bp (OR=0.57, 95% CI 0.34-0.96, P=0.022) alleles have protective effects. In contrast, we found no compelling evidence for association with the 480-bp allele of DAT (OR=1.04, 95% CI 0.98-1.11, P=0.20). No significant publication bias was detected in current studies. In conclusion, there is a statistically significant association between ADHD and dopamine system genes, especially DRD4 and DRD5. These findings strongly implicate the involvement of brain dopamine systems in the pathogenesis of ADHD.