Why are boys more susceptible to attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) than girls?

Why are boys more susceptible to attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) than girls? is a Research Project for the Brain and Gender Research Group, under the Centre for Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Project Leader

lab-picAttention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common psychiatric disorder in children, consisting of age-inappropriate symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD is a highly heritable disorder associated with major changes in brain physiology and chemistry, particularly in levels of dopamine. Although the cause of ADHD is yet unknown, it is clear that ADHD occurs more often boys than girls with a ratio of 4:1.

We have demonstrated that the male-specific gene SRY is localized in dopamine producing areas in the male brain, such as the substantia nigra (SN) and ventral tegmental area, and regulates the expression of genes which regulate dopamine biosynthesis (Czech et al., 2012). We hypothesise that that the male specific Y-chromosome gene SRY is a factor involved in the susceptibility of boys to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We are currently testing this hypothesis by determining if the function or levels of brain SRY are altered in animal models of ADHD or in human ADHD patients. We will also assess whether altering SRY levels in the brain, using molecular and genetic approaches, reduces symptoms or prevents the development of ADHD using animal models. Successful completion of the proposed project will provide a completely novel genetic explanation for the susceptibility of boys to ADHD.

Approaches include neurosurgery, behavioural neuroscience, neuroanatomy and cellular and molecular biology.

Selected publications

  • Czech, D.P., Lee, J., Sim, H., Parish, C.L., Vilain, E. and Harley, V.R. The human testis determining factor SRY localizes in the substantia nigra and regulates multiple components of dopamine synthesis and metabolism. (2012) Journal of Neurochemistry 122(2): 260-271