Science Is Art: A genomic view of a disorder

ADHD genome chartA combination of genes and environmental factors triggers attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to researchers who identified 12 ADHD susceptibility genes.

They say genes account for roughly 76% of cases of ADHD.

Stephen Faraone, PhD

Stephen Faraone, PhD, in an interview with Upstate’s “HealthLink on Air” podcast and radio show (photo by Jim Howe)

“That does not mean that the environment is not important. We know that the environment accounts for the other 24%, but we also know that the environment interacts with some of those genes that are responsible for the 76% of the variability, so both genes and environment are important,” says Stephen Faraone, PhD, distinguished professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Upstate.

After analyzing data from more than 55,000 people, he and a team of researchers identified 12 gene regions that are linked with ADHD. Their work was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The chart above represents the entire genome. Each dot shows a locus on the genome. Any dot above the dotted line indicates a genomewide significant finding. In other words, at that locus is a DNA variant that increases risk for ADHD.

The dots form a “tower” because those markers on the genome are marking the same locus. Each tower corresponds to a separate locus; at each locus, there is more than one gene. More studies are needed to disentangle which genes are responsible.

Upstate Health magazine fall 2019 coverThis article appears in the fall 2019 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Click here for the full online version of the magazine.

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