Scientists Find New Clues to Cause of ADHD

by on February 1st, 2012 at 7:00 am

ADHD DiscoveriesTwo recent studies have linked ADHD to possible problems with the body’s ability to create serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s essential for good psychological health.

According to the research results, the abnormalities could involve the amino acid, tryptophan, and a gene that helps produce serotonin.

The human body converts tryptophan into serotonin. But, scientists from Örebro University — a Swedish college — discovered that some children with ADHD may have trouble fully utilizing tryptophan.1

“The decreased transport of tryptophan that was found in the ADHD group in the present study may imply reduced levels of serotonin in the CNS [central nervous system]…,” the scientists reported.

Similarly, another study shows that the children of mothers with a mutated tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) gene were much more likely to have ADHD symptoms.2

According to the study, TPH1 helps produces an enzyme used to create serotonin in maternal reproductive tissues.

“Family analysis of 38 TPH1 mutation carriers and 41 of their offspring revealed that offspring of mothers carrying TPH1 mutations reported 1.5- to 2.5-times-higher ADHD scores and related symptoms.…,” the authors reported.

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  1. Jessica Johansson et al, “Altered Tryptophan and Alanine Transport in Fibroblasts From Boys with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): an In Vitro Study,” Behavioral and Brain Functions.
  2. Halmoy A et al, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Offspring of Mothers with Impaired Serotonin Production,” Archives of General Psychiatry.


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