Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy

Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy
Open Access

ISSN: ISSN: 2157-7412

+44 1223 790975


Epigenetics in Developmental Disorder: ADHD and Endophenotypes

Trevor Archer, Marlene Oscar-Berman and Kenneth Blum

Heterogeneity in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with complex interactive operations of genetic and environmental factors, is expressed in a variety of disorder manifestations: severity, co-morbidities of symptoms, and the effects of genes on phenotypes. Neurodevelopmental influences of genomic imprinting have set the stage for the structural-physiological variations that modulate the cognitive, affective, and pathophysiological domains of ADHD. The relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors provide rapidly proliferating insights into the developmental trajectory of the condition, both structurally and functionally. Parent-of-origin effects seem to support the notion that genetic risks for disease process debut often interact with the social environment, i.e., the parental environment in infants and young children. The notion of endophenotypes, markers of an underlying liability to the disorder, may facilitate detection of genetic risks relative to a complex clinical disorder. Simple genetic association has proven insufficient to explain the spectrum of ADHD. At a primary level of analysis, the consideration of epigenetic regulation of brain signalling mechanisms, dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline is examined. Neurotrophic factors that participate in the neurogenesis, survival, and functional maintenance of brain systems, are involved in neuroplasticity alterations underlying brain disorders, and are implicated in the genetic predisposition to ADHD, but not obviously, nor in a simple or straightforward fashion. In the context of intervention, genetic linkage studies of ADHD pharmacological intervention have demonstrated that associations have fitted the "drug response phenotype," rather than the disorder diagnosis. Despite conflicting evidence for the existence, or not, of genetic associations between disorder diagnosis and genes regulating the structure and function of neurotransmitters and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), associations between symptoms-profiles endophenotypes and single nucleotide polymorphisms appear reassuring.