Robert Althoff, M.D., Ph.D.
Fellow in Child & Adolescent ADHD
James Hudziak, M.D.
University of Vermont
Epigenetic Factors Associated with ADHD
Epigenetic Factors Associated with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Molecular genetic studies have identified a number of genes that contribute to the development of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Hundreds of such studies have been done, but their results have conflicted. This may be because the majority of these studies report on the relations of the structure of a risk gene rather than the function of that gene. In other words: is the gene turned on or off?
Dr. Althoff will examine this question by performing a whole genome DNA methylation study, which will allow him to determine which genes are turned on or off in a cell. He will do this work in a special population of 18 “Identical (Monozygotic)” twin pairs collected by colleagues at the Netherlands Twin Registry. They have followed these twins since birth and have DNA, neuroimaging data, and measures of environmental risk and protective factors. Twin pairs will include MZ twins where both have ADHD (MZ concordant affected pairs), MZ twins where one twin has ADHD (MZ discordant pairs), and MZ twins where neither twin has ADHD (MZ concordant unaffected pairs).
Dr. Althoff will collaborate with SUNY Syracuse Molecular Genetic laboratory to do genetic analyses to determine rates of methylation. He expects that there will be a greater difference in whole genome methylation between MZ discordant pairs than between MZ concordant pairs, reflecting the interaction of the environment on gene expression.