Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by age-inappropriate symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. ADHD is highly prevalent in childhood and often persists into adulthood. Both genetic variants and environmental factors play a role in the onset and persistence of ADHD, and epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation are considered as a link for their interplay. To investigate this, we studied DNA methylation in 37 candidate genes by performing targeted bisulfite sequencing of DNA isolated from whole blood of N = 88 individuals diagnosed with adult ADHD and N = 91 unaffected individuals (mean age 34.2 years). Differentially methylated sites were assessed by generalized linear models testing ADHD status and ADHD symptoms, accounting for a methylation-based smoking score, age, sex, and blood cell count. DNA methylation of single sites within DRD4 and KLDR1 was associated with adult ADHD status, and multiple DNA methylation sites within TARBP1 were associated with ADHD symptoms in adulthood and childhood. Awaiting replication, findings of this pilot study point to TARBP1 as a new candidate gene for ADHD symptoms. Our work also stresses the need for research to further examine the effects of environmental factors, such as nicotine exposure, on epigenetic modifications associated with psychiatric traits.
DNA methylation associated with persistent ADHD suggests TARBP1 as novel candidate
Annika L. Weiß, Mandy Meijer, Bettina Budeus, Marc Pauper, Marina Hakobjan, Johanne Groothuismink, Yan Shi, Kornelia Neveling, Jan K. Buitelaar, Martine Hoogman, Barbara Franke, Marieke Klein