Genotype-Environment Interaction in ADHD: Genetic Predisposition Determines the Extent to Which Environmental Influences Explain Variability in the Symptom Dimensions Hyperactivity and Inattention

Inga Schwabe, Miljan Jovic, Kaili Rimfeld, Andrea G Allegrini, Stéphanie M van den Berg

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Although earlier studies in the field of behaviour genetics have shown that individual differences on the spectrum of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are highly heritable, emerging evidence suggests that symptoms are associated with complex interactions between genes and environmental influences. This study investigated whether a genetic predisposition for the symptom dimensions hyperactivity and inattention determines the extent to which unique-environmental influences explain variability in these symptoms. To this purpose, we analysed item-level scores of 2168 twin pairs who completed both the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Strength and Weaknesses of ADHD Symptoms and Normal Behavior (SWAN) questionnaire. To maximize the psychometric information to measure ADHD symptoms, psychometric analyses were performed to investigate whether the items from the two questionnaires can be combined to form two longer subscales. In the estimation of genotype-environment interaction, we corrected for error variance heterogeneity in the measurement of ADHD symptoms through the application of item response theory (IRT) measurement models. Results indicated that unique-environmental influences were more important in creating individual differences in both hyperactivity and inattention for twins with a genetic predisposition for these symptoms than for twins without such a predisposition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Publication statusSubmitted - 2021

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