Genetic Response to Amphetamine Affects ADHD, Schizophrenia Development

April 11, 2014
Jacquelyn Gray

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, patients who are sensitive to d-amphetamine have a decreased likelihood of developing ADHD or schizophrenia.

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, patients who are sensitive to d-amphetamine have a decreased likelihood of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or schizophrenia.

Abraham Palmer, PhD, and researchers at the University of Chicago administered d-amphetamine or placebo to 400 volunteers who reported their satisfaction levels through a questionnaire. The investigators searched for an association between participants’ responses and variations in single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in their DNA.

The researchers also looked for a link between the patients’ SNPs and their sensitivity to amphetamine, and they compared the SNP responses to those for other psychiatric disorders.

By analyzing SNPs, the investigators noticed many patients who were sensitive to amphetamine were prone to developing ADHD and schizophrenia. However, they did not find amphetamine sensitivity to be related to Parkinson’s disease development.

“We found that the source of this enrichment was an excess of alleles that increased sensitivity to the euphoric effects of d-amphetamine and decreased susceptibility to schizophrenia and ADHD,” the researchers reported.

The authors asserted their findings will allow for preliminary testing to be conducted when screening for psychiatric disorders.

“Our results suggest that alleles identified using an acute challenge with a dopaminergic drug in healthy individuals can be used to identify alleles that confer risk for psychiatric disorders commonly treated with dopaminergic agonists and antagonists,” they wrote.

“When we use a drug treatment, we know exactly what systems have been perturbed,” Palmer, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “So when we see overlap for alleles that affect how you respond to drugs and a disease, we can hone in on what those alleles are doing biologically. This is instrumental for translating those results into new treatments and cures, which is the ultimate reason for performing genetic studies of disease.”