Causes of Tourette Syndrome
The exact Tourette syndrome causes are still being investigated. The disorder is most likely linked to a problem in certain areas of the brain. Whether the problem is with connections within these parts or to the communication chemicals is unclear. Evidence also suggests that genetics may play a role. However, scientists are unable to say which specific chromosomes and genes are involved.
The cause or causes of Tourette syndrome are currently unknown. However, attempting to find the causes is an active area of Tourette syndrome research.
Right now, research scientists believe that the primary Tourette syndrome cause is a problem in certain areas of the brain, including the basal ganglia, frontal lobes, and cortex. They are not sure whether this problem is related to connections within these parts or to the communication chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) found in these regions. Given the often complex and varied Tourette syndrome symptoms, the causes are likely to be equally complex.
Evidence from twin and family studies suggests that Tourette syndrome may be an inherited condition, meaning that it is passed from parent to child. At this point, however, scientists are not able to say which specific chromosomes and genes are involved. They think that the environment may play a role as well.
Genetic studies also suggest that some forms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are genetically related to Tourette syndrome, but there is less evidence for a genetic relationship between Tourette syndrome and other behavioral problems that commonly co-occur with it.
It is important for families to understand that someone who is at risk for the disease may not necessarily develop full-blown Tourette syndrome. Instead, it may express itself as a milder tic disorder or as obsessive-compulsive behaviors. It is also possible that the gene-carrying offspring will not develop any symptoms of Tourette syndrome.
The sex of the person also plays an important role. At-risk males are more likely to have tics; at-risk females are more likely to have obsessive-compulsive symptoms.