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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Tourette syndrome


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome
  • Tourette disorder
  • Tourette's syndrome
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What causes Tourette syndrome?

Although the cause of Tourette syndrome is unknown, current research points to abnormalities in certain brain regions (including the basal ganglia, frontal lobes, and cortex), the circuits that interconnect these regions, and the neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) responsible for communication among nerve cells.[1][2] Given the often complex presentation of Tourette syndrome, the cause of the disorder is likely to be equally complex.[1] In many cases, there is a family history of tics, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, OCD.[3]

In 2005, scientists discovered the first gene mutation that may cause some cases of Tourette syndrome. This gene, named SLITRK1, is normally involved with the growth of nerve cells and how they connect with other neurons.  The mutated gene is located in regions of the brain (basal ganglia, cortex, and frontal lobes) previously identified as being associated with Tourette syndrome.[4] 
Last updated: 4/21/2011

  1. Tourette Syndrome Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2010 ; Accessed 2/24/2010.
  2. Facts About Tourette Syndrome. Tourette Syndrome Association. Accessed 2/24/2010.
  3. What is Tourette Syndrome?. Tourette Syndrome Association. 2010; Accessed 2/24/2010.
  4. Paul Girolami. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Scientists Discover First Gene for Tourette Syndrome. January 31, 2007; Accessed 2/24/2010.
  5. Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. MedlinePlus. 2009; Accessed 2/24/2010.