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The role of genetic factors in adult ADHD

adults in the largest clinical ADHD sample worldwide, can be expected to guide future research in this challenging field.

Clinical implications

  • The genetic mechanisms involved in ADHD are being studied with considerable success by several centres worldwide. The International Multicenter persistent ADHD CollaboraTion, IMpACT, with its large sample of adult patients with ADHD, has become an important tool for the (re-)investigation of the role of previously suggested genetic risk factors for ADHD, and the mechanisms leading from gene to disease.

  • The large IMpACT sample will facilitate the identification of new genes for ADHD. For this reason, a genome-wide search for new risk genes should be carried out in this sample.

  • The findings of IMpACT will help to identify targets for the development of new and more effective treatments for ADHD.

  • In addition, these findings may contribute to the prediction of persistence of the disorder already in children, supporting disease prevention.


Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not merely a child-psychiatric disorder that persists into young adulthood, but an important and unique manifestation of psychopathology across the lifespan (Kooij et al., 2005).

The majority of patients affected by ADHD in childhood carry ADHD symptoms, or even the full ADHD-diagnosis, into adulthood. Since adult ADHD is associated with social and professional problems and, consequently, considerable costs, efforts are needed to increase the detection and treatment of adult ADHD.

The recent expansion of knowledge in genetics, brain imaging, and behavioural research is leading to a better understanding of the causes of ADHD, and paving the way for strategies for the development of more effective treatments for all age groups affected by this disorder and the prevention of the progression of disease into adulth

Contact: Sonja Mak
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

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