ADHD News & Research

Study: Patients with ADHD Plus Disruptive Behavior Disorder Possess a Unique Genetic Segment

Individuals with ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) share roughly 80% of the genetic variants associated with aggressive and antisocial behaviors, according to a recent Spanish study. Researchers have traced this back to a unique genetic segment among patients with comorbid ADHD and DBDs that may be detected early to aid more effective and proactive treatment.

February 19, 2021

Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) and disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) share approximately 80% of the genetic variants associated with aggressive and antisocial behaviors, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.1  DBDs include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD), which are associated with extremely disobedient and hostile behavior, including property destruction, theft, and cruelty toward animals in the case of patients with severe CD. This new study suggests that individuals with ADHD plus ODD and/or CD appear to possess a unique genetic segment that may be detected early in life to unlock proactive, rather than reactive, treatments, researchers say.

Researchers used data on roughly 4,000 individuals affected by ADHD and DBDs drawn from the European project Agressotype, which explored the neurobiological basis of aggressive behavior. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were used to analyze the genetic contribution of changes in a single DNA nucleotide (SNP) to these psychiatric disorders.

Researchers discovered a genomic segment in the chromosome 11 that increased the risk of comorbid ADHD and DBDs, suggesting that genetics are more determining in those with both comorbidities than in those with only ADHD. Bru Cormand, professor in the department of genetics, microbiology, and statistics at the University of Barcelona explained:  “If we compare the genome of patients with ADHD and DBD to that of those patients with only ADHD, we see that people affected by both disorders have a higher genetic correlation with risk genetic variants. These extra correlations of ADHD and DBD patients would probably correspond to alterations other authors had related to aggressive-related behaviors.”

Researcher Marta Ribasés concludes: “If we consider ADHD to be an open door to a negative trajectory, using genetic information to identify those individuals who are more vulnerable will have a strong impact on prevention, early detection and treatment, and will shed light on new research studies to find efficient therapies that can be specific for the disorder or shared between several disorders.”

View Article Sources

1Cormand Bru, et al. ADHD, DBD, and aggressiveness: Risky genetic Factors. Nature Communications (Feb. 2021).

2ADHD, DBD and aggressiveness: Risky genetic factors. EurekaAlerta! (Feb. 2021)