Neuropharmacological and human clinical studies have suggested that the brain dopaminergic system is substantively involved in normal and pathological phenotypes of attention. Dopamine transporter gene (SLC6A3) was proposed as a candidate gene for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We investigated the effect of the SLC6A3 variants on cognitive performance in ADHD and healthy children and teenagers. Participants completed cognitive tasks measuring attentional switching, selective and sustained attention, and effectiveness of alerting, orienting and executive attention. We estimated the effects of 40 bp variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism located in the 3′ untranslated region (3′ UTR) (9-repeat vs 10-repeat allele) of the SLC6A3 gene, ADHD diagnosis, age, and their interactions as predictors of cognitive performance. ADHD children demonstrated deficits in most of the examined attention processes, persistent within the examined age range (9-16 years). No significant effects were observed for the interaction of ADHD and the SLC6A3 polymorphism, but the results revealed a significant main effect of SLC6A3 genotype in the entire research sample. Subjects carrying 9R allele performed the switching task significantly worse in comparison to children with 10R/10R or 10R/11R genotype. SLC6A3 polymorphism moderated age-related improvements in orienting and attentional switching. Results suggest that SLC6A3 genotype influence these attentional/cognitive functions which deficits are not the key symptoms in ADHD.
About The Expert
Michał B Czerwinski