The dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) has been consistently reported to be associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Recent studies have linked DRD4 to functional connectivity among specific brain regions. The current study aimed to compare the effects of the DRD4 genotype on functional integrity in drug-naïve ADHD children and healthy children. Resting-state functional MRI images were acquired from 49 children with ADHD and 37 healthy controls (HCs). We investigated the effects of the 2-repeat allele of DRD4 on brain network connectivity in both groups using a parameter called the degree of centrality (DC), which indexes local functional relationships across the entire brain connectome. A voxel-wise two-way ANCOVA was performed to examine the diagnosis-by-genotype interactions on DC maps. Significant diagnosis-by-genotype interactions with DC were found in the temporal lobe, including the left inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) and bilateral middle temporal gyrus (MTG) (GRF corrected at voxel level p < 0.001 and cluster level p < 0.05, two-tailed). With the further subdivision of the DC network according to anatomical distance, additional brain regions with significant interactions were found in the long-range DC network, including the left superior parietal gyrus (SPG) and right middle frontal gyrus (MFG). The post-hoc pairwise analysis found that altered network centrality related to DRD4 differed according to diagnostic status (p < 0.05). This genetic imaging study suggests that the DRD4 genotype regulates the functional integration of brain networks in children with ADHD and HCs differently. This may have important implications for our understanding of the role of DRD4 in altering functional connectivity in ADHD subjects.
© 2021. The Author(s).