A review and analysis of the relationship between neuropsychological measures and DAT1 in ADHD

N.N.J. Rommelse, M.E. Altink, A.A. Vasquez, C.J.M. Buschgens, E. Fliers, S.V. Faraone, J.K. Buitelaar, J.A. Sergeant, B. Franke, J. Oosterlaan

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Meta-analyses indicate that the gene coding for the dopamine transporter (DAT1 or SLC6A3) is associated with an increased risk for ADHD. The mechanisms of this gene for ADHD are unclear. We systematically reviewed studies linking the VNTR in the 3′ UTR of the DAT1 to neurophysiological and neuropsychological measures. In addition, a broad set of executive/cognitive and motor tests was administered to 350 children (5-11 years) and adolescents (11-19 years) with ADHD and 195 non-affected siblings. Two VNTRs (in intron 8 and the 3′ UTR) and four SNPs (two 5′ and two 3′) in DAT1 were genotyped. The effect of the polymorphisms on neuropsychological functioning was studied. The review indicated that the majority of studies did not find a relation between DAT1 and neurophysiological or neuropsychological measures. In our sample, several of the polymorphisms of DAT1 were associated with ADHD and ADHD was associated with impaired neuropsychological functioning. However, none of the DAT1 polymorphisms was convincingly associated with neuropsychological dysfunctioning. This suggests that the effect of DAT1 on ADHD was not mediated by neuropsychological performance. However, since DAT1 is mainly expressed in the striatum and not the prefrontal cortex, it may influence striatum-related functions (such as delay aversion) more heavily than prefrontal related functions (such as executive functions). Associations of DAT1 with ADHD were only found in adolescents, which may suggest that DAT1 mainly exerts its effect in adolescence, and/or that having a more persistent form of ADHD may mark a more severe or homogeneous genetic form of the disorder. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1536-1546
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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