Literature suggests that life stressors predict attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and that this relationship is moderated by the serotonin transporter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR). It is less clear whether, on reverse, ADHD symptoms may influence the risk of exposure to life stressors. Furthermore, the role of life stressors may vary across development depending on the type of life stressor. We used threewave longitudinal data of 1,306 adolescents from the general population and clinicreferred cohort of the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey. The 5-HTTLPR genotype (SS, LS, LL), parent-reported ADHD symptoms at three time points (T1: Mage = 11.2; T2: Mage = 13.5; T3: Mage = 16.2 years), and the number of personrelated ('dependent') and environment-related ('independent') life stressors occurring between measurements (T1-T2, T2-T3) were assessed. Using path analyses, we examined bidirectional relations between exposure to these life stressors and ADHD symptoms between the separate waves moderated by 5-HTTLPR status. Exposure to life stressors did not predict ADHD symptoms. Rather, we found that in 5-HTTLPR Sallele homozygotes, ADHD symptoms in middle adolescence (T2) predicted exposure to the number of person-related life stressors later in adolescence (T2-T3, p = 0.001). There was no relation with environment-related life stressors. Our study suggests that S-allele homozygotes with higher levels of ADHD symptoms in middle adolescence are more vulnerable to becoming exposed to person-related ('dependent') life stressors in late adolescence. Findings emphasize the need to be aware of social-emotional adversities that may occur in genetically vulnerable adolescents with ADHD symptoms in the transition into adulthood.
Little is known about the effects of risk factors on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptom over time. Here, we longitudinally studied the role of candidate genes, pre- and perinatal factors, and their interactions on ADHD symptoms between ages 10 and 18 years. Subjects were part of the general population or clinic-referred cohort of the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (n = 1667). At mean ages of 11.1 (T1), 13.4 (T2), and 16.2 years (T3), ADHD symptoms were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist. Linear Mixed Models were used to examine the association of candidate genes (i.e., DRD4, DRD2, 5-HTTLPR, COMT, and MAOA), pre- and perinatal factors (i.e., index measure of various pregnancy and delivery complications, maternal smoking, maternal drinking, and low birth weight), and their interactions with ADHD symptoms across adolescence. Pregnancy and delivery complications were associated with a higher level of ADHD symptoms across all time points, but with a significantly declining influence over time (p = 0.006). We found no main effects of the candidate genes on ADHD symptoms throughout adolescence. The simultaneous presence of the low activity MAOA genotype and low birth weight (p < 0.001) and of the 5-HTTLPR LL-allele and respectively pregnancy and delivery complications (p = 0.04) and maternal smoking (p = 0.04) were associated with more ADHD symptoms particularly during early adolescence, and these influences significantly decreased over time. Findings suggest an age-dependent role of gene-environment interactions on ADHD symptoms across adolescence.