Differential association between MAOA, ADHD and neuropsychological functioning in boys and girls

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, J. Oosterlaan, B. Franke

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more common in boys than in girls. It has been hypothesized that this sex difference might be related to genes on the X-chromosome, like Monoamine Oxidase A (MAOA). Almost all studies on the role of MAOA in ADHD have focused predominantly on boys, making it unknown whether MAOA also has an effect on ADHD in girls, and few studies have investigated the relationship between MAOA and neuropsychological functioning, yet this may provide insight into the pathways leading from genotype to phenotype. The current study set out to examine the relationship between MAOA, ADHD, and neuropsychological functioning in both boys (265 boys with ADHD and 89 male non-affected siblings) and girls (85 girls with ADHD and 106 female non-affected siblings). A haplotype was used based on three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs12843268, rs3027400, and rs1137070). Two haplotypes (GGC and ATT) captured 97% of the genetic variance in the investigated MAOA SNPs. The ATT haplotype was more common in non-affected siblings (P = 0.025), conferring a protective effect for ADHD in both boys and girls. The target and direction of the MAOA effect on neuropsychological functioning was different in boys and girls: The ATT haplotype was associated with poorer motor control in boys (P = 0.002), but with better visuo-spatial working memory in girls (P = 0.01). These findings suggest that the genetic and neuropsychological mechanisms underlying ADHD may be different in boys and girls and underline the importance of taking into account sex effects when studying ADHD. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1524-1530
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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