Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions worldwide, with profound impacts on both children and adults. Characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, ADHD can significantly hinder academic and social functioning. While its genetic basis has long been acknowledged, identifying specific genes involved has remained a challenge. However, recent strides in research have illuminated a key player: the CDH2 gene.

Israeli scientists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka-University Medical Center have made a groundbreaking discovery, identifying CDH2 as a pivotal gene implicated in ADHD. CDH2 encodes N-cadherin, a protein essential for brain synapse activity and formation. Through meticulous investigation, researchers found that mutations in CDH2 disrupt synaptic activity, influencing molecular pathways and dopamine levels in brain regions associated with ADHD.

Published in the esteemed journal Nature Communications, the study utilized CRISPR technology to introduce mutations into mouse genes corresponding to CDH2, resulting in hereditary hyperactivity. The mice displayed ADHD-like symptoms across various behavioral tests, establishing them as a reliable model for studying the disorder.

“This finding marks a significant step forward in our understanding of ADHD’s genetic underpinnings,” remarked Prof. Ohad Birk, one of the study’s authors. Beyond scientific significance, the mutant cells and mouse strain present valuable tools for exploring novel ADHD medications.

The discovery of CDH2’s role in ADHD holds promise for tailored treatments, potentially mitigating the side effects associated with current medications. By elucidating molecular pathways involved in ADHD, further studies at BGU’s National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev aim to develop targeted therapies based on this newfound knowledge.

While CDH2 represents a significant breakthrough, ADHD’s complexity suggests multiple genetic and environmental influences. Ongoing research seeks to unravel additional genetic contributors and understand how environmental factors interact with genetic predispositions to shape the disorder’s trajectory.

For adults with ADHD, symptoms like difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, and restlessness can persist, impacting daily functioning. Many adults remain unaware of their condition, attributing challenges to everyday struggles. Understanding and addressing ADHD’s multifaceted nature will be crucial in advancing diagnosis, treatment, and support for individuals affected by this pervasive disorder.

By Impact Lab