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Possible association of the DRD4 gene with a history of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in women with bulimia nervosa

Authors

  • Zeynep Yilmaz BSc,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    2. Clinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
    3. Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
    • Clinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1R8
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  • Allan S. Kaplan MD, FRCP(C),

    1. Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    2. Clinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
    3. Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    4. Eating Disorders Program, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Canada
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  • Robert D. Levitan MD, FRCP(C),

    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
    2. Mood and Anxiety Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
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  • Clement C. Zai PhD,

    1. Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
    2. Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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  • James L. Kennedy MD, FRCP(C)

    1. Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
    2. Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
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    • Conflict of interest: JLK is a consultant for Sanofi-Aventis and holds an honorarium from Eli Lilly. Neither Sanofi-Aventis nor Eli Lilly provided any support for or had any influence on this research project. Other authors of this manuscript declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


Abstract

Objective:

Up to one-third of patients with bulimia nervosa (BN) report a history of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, and the dopaminergic genes, especially the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4), have been associated independently with both binge eating and ADHD.

Method:

The purpose of this study was to (1) compare the frequency of DRD4 exon III VNTR variants in 157 BN probands and equal number of healthy controls; (2) assess transmission of DRD4 alleles in 68 families of patients with BN; and (3) explore the possible role of DRD4 gene in childhood ADHD history in a subgroup of 81 women with BN.

Results:

Our results showed that the BN probands and controls did not differ in DRD4 allele frequency. We also did not find evidence for preferential transmission of any DRD4 variant to the affected offspring with BN. However, the presence of either the 2-repeat or 7-repeat allele was associated with a history of childhood ADHD in BN (p = .038, odds ratio = 3.2).

Discussion:

Our findings suggest that although DRD4 may not be associated with the diagnosis of BN, its variants are associated with a history of childhood ADHD in BN probands. This may have relevance for the understanding, prevention, and treatment of BN that evolves in the context of childhood ADHD. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2012)

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