Association study of the functional Catechol-O-Methyltranferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism on executive cognitive function in a Thai sample.
ABSTRACT: Catechol-O-Methyltranferase (COMT) plays a crucial role in the removal of cortical dopamine and is strongly implicated in human executive function. Numerous studies have reported associations of the COMT Val158Met (rs4680) polymorphism with executive function in healthy subjects. However, little work has investigated this in the Thai population and the relationship of age and education with this association remains unclear. Therefore, this study was designed to investigate the association of this polymorphism of the COMT gene with executive cognitive brain function in healthy subjects and the relationship with age and education. The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) was performed to assess executive function in 254 healthy Thai subjects (aged 20-72 years). The results showed a significant association of rs4680 with executive function, in which Val/Met heterozygotes demonstrated better cognitive set shifting performance. Moreover, Met allele carriers showed a significantly stronger effect in the categories completed score than did Val homozygotes. Furthermore, age and education also showed a significant association with COMT genotype and WCST. These results revealed that executive cognitive function is associated with COMT genotype and influenced by age and/or education level in a Thai sample.
Project description:Proper dopamine (DA) signaling is likely necessary for maintaining optimal cognitive performance as we age, particularly in prefrontal-parietal networks and in fronto-striatal networks. Thus, reduced DA availability is a salient risk factor for accelerated cognitive aging. A common polymorphism that affects DA D1 receptor dopamine availability, COMT Val158Met (rs4680), influences enzymatic breakdown of DA, with COMT Val carriers having a 3- to 4-fold reduction in synaptic DA compared to COMT Met carriers. Furthermore, dopamine receptors and postsynaptic availability are drastically reduced with aging, as is executive function performance that ostensibly relies on these pathways. Here, we investigated in 176 individuals aged 20-94 years whether: (1) COMT Val carriers differ from their Met counterparts in thickness of regional cortices receiving D1 receptor pathways: prefrontal, parietal, cingulate cortices; (2) this gene-brain association differs across the adult lifespan; and (3) COMT-related regional thinning evidences cognitive consequences. We found that COMT Val carriers evidenced thinner cortex in prefrontal, parietal, and posterior cingulate cortices than COMT Met carriers and this effect was not age-dependent. Further, we demonstrate that thickness of these regions significantly mediates the effect of COMT genotype on an executive function composite measure. These results suggest that poorer executive function performance is due partly to thinner association cortex in dopaminergic-rich regions, and particularly so in individuals who are genetically predisposed to lower postsynaptic dopamine availability, regardless of age.
Project description:Abstract Background Schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) are often characterised by a plateau or decline in cognitive abilities early in the prodrome. The cause of developmental alteration remains unknown, and investigation of genetic involvement in cognitive function in these disorders may assist the understanding of the underlying neurobiological mechanisms involved. Variation at two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene have previously shown an influence on COMT protein levels and cognition; rs4680 and rs4818. Here we investigate the influence of the nonsynonymous “Val/Met” SNP rs4680 and a second functional SNP, rs4818, on tasks of cognitive flexibility and attention. Methods The sample comprised 48 healthy controls (HC; age = 31.95 ± 12.80; 25 males, 23 females), and 43 with a diagnosis of SSD (age = 41.64 ± 10.36; 26 males, 17 females). Measures of cognitive flexibility and attention included the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), Continuous Performance Test-Identical Pairs version (CPT-IP), Trail Making Test (TMT), and the D-KEFS Colour Word Interference Test (CWIT). Due to small cohort sizes, in our preliminary analyses we chose to compare people who should be most severely affected because of inheriting COMT haplotypes associated with poor cognitive functioning (GG rs4818 / GG rs4680: G-G haplotype) to those with haplotypes associated with better cognitive functioning (CC rs4818 / AA rs4680: C-A haplotype). Multivariate analysis of variance factors included COMT haplotype, diagnosis (HC and SSD), and gender, with Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons; age was included as a covariate. Analyses were also conducted based on a non-functional SNP of the COMT gene; rs165599, as a negative control. Results SSD exhibited reduced cognitive performance compared to HC; F(4, 75) = 8.810, p < .001. Investigation of C-A haplotype revealed an interaction with diagnosis on cognitive performance; F(8, 154) = 2.075, p = .041; SSD had reduced performance compared to HC for the WCST, CPT-IP, and TMT in C-A haplotypes (all p < .05). COMT haplotype also interacted with gender on cognitive performance (C-A haplotype; F(8, 154) = 2.315, p = .023, G-G haplotype; F(8, 154) = 2.706, p = .008). Males who were C-A non-carriers and /or G-G haplotype (high COMT activity groups) performed better on CPT-IP (both p < .05) and worse on CWIT (both p < .05) compared to females. Control SNP rs165599 revealed no main effects or significant interactions (all p > .05). Discussion The role of the COMT gene in the cognitive abilities of SSD remains contentious as gene expression does not differ from a healthy population. This preliminary analysis revealed an interaction between diagnosis and COMT haplotype, however, this only reached statistical significance for the C-A haplotype, where SSD with C-A haplotype and C-A non-carriers had reduced performance compared to HC on most tasks except TMT. The different effects found across the tasks, which probed various elements of cognitive flexibility and attention, supports a nuanced role of COMT in cognitive function. Further, high COMT activity was beneficial for males on CPT-IP but not CWIT compared to females. Gender interaction remains a significant consideration in studies of the COMT gene, likely involving the catechol-estrogens which are substrates of COMT. As expected there was no significant results with control SNP rs165599, indicating that findings were due to the influence of SNPs rs4680 and rs4818 on COMT activity.
Project description:Walking speed is associated with attention and executive control processes subserved by the prefrontal cortex. Because polymorphisms in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) influence these cognitive processes we hypothesized that the same polymorphisms may influence gait velocity. We examined the associations between the Val(158)Met polymorphism in COMT and gait velocity as well as attention and executive function. Participants were 278 non-demented older adults. The results revealed that methionine (Met)/valine (Val) was associated with faster gait velocity. This association can be explained by the putative role of the Val allele in regulating tonic dopamine release in the striatum. In contrast, Met/Met was associated with better attention and executive function. Stratification by gender revealed that the association between COMT genotype and gait was significant only in men. Conversely, the association between COMT genotype and attention and executive function was significant only in women. These findings suggest a differential effect in relating the Val(158)Met polymorphism to gait and to cognitive function while supporting the previously described sexual dimorphism in the phenotypic expressions of COMT.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Cognitive dysfunction is prevalen among brain tumor patients treated with radiotherapy (RT) and chemotherapy (CT). However, little is known about genetic risk factors that may moderate their vulnerability for developing cognitive impairment. In this study, we examined the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in three genes, Catechol-O-Methyl-Transferase (COMT), Brain-Derived-Neurotrophic-Factor (BDNF), and dystrobrevin binding protein 1 (DTNBP1), and cognitive functions in brain tumor survivors. METHODS: One hundred and fifty brain tumor patients participated in the study: ninety had been treated with RT ± CT, fifty-seven had CT alone, and three had no therapy. All Patients completed a battery of neuropsychological tests of attention, executive functions and memory, and provided a blood sample. Genotyping of SNPs in the BDNF (n = 9), COMT (n = 17) and DTNBP1 (n = 7) genes was performed. RESULTS: Linear regressions with stepwise backward elimination of SNPs based on change in AIC criterion, adjusting for age, education, and treatment type indicated a significant (p< 0.05) association between the COMT SNP rs4680 (Val158Met) and cognitive function, with lower working memory scores in homozygotes (G/G) and higher executive function and delayed recall scores in heterozygotes (A/G). Five additional SNPs in the COMT gene were significantly associated with lower scores in attention and executive functions. There were significant associations among five SNPs in the BDNF gene and lower performance in executive function, learning and delayed recall. Four SNPs in the DTNBP1 gene were associated with attention and memory scores. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that in brain tumor patients, cognitive outcome may be differentially affected by polymorphisms in genes previously associated with executive and memory functions in healthy individuals and other clinical populations. Further work is underway to quantify the variation in cognitive outcomes explained by these polymorphisms.
Project description:In a widely cited study, Mattay et al. reported that amphetamine (0.25 mg/kg oral, or 17 mg for a 68 kg individual) impaired behavioral and brain indices of executive functioning, measured using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) and N-Back working memory task, in 6 individuals homozygous for the met allele of the val158met polymorphism in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene, whereas it improved executive functioning in 10 individuals homozygous for the more active val allele. We attempted to replicate their behavioral findings in a larger sample, using similar executive functioning tasks and a broader range of amphetamine doses. Over four sessions, n = 200 healthy normal adults received oral placebo, d-amphetamine 5, 10, and 20 mg (average of 0.07, 0.15 and 0.29 mg/kg), under counterbalanced double-blind conditions and completed WCST and N-back tests of executive functioning. Amphetamine had typical effects on blood pressure and processing speed but did not affect executive functioning. COMT genotype (val158met) was not related to executive functioning under placebo or amphetamine conditions, even when we compared only the homozygous val/val and met/met genotypes at the highest dose of amphetamine (20 mg). Thus, we were not able to replicate the behavioral interaction between COMT and amphetamine seen in Mattay et al. We discuss possible differences between the studies and the implications of our findings for the use of COMT genotyping to predict clinical responses to dopaminergic drugs, and the use of intermediate phenotypes in genetic research.
Project description:The relationship between dopamine (DA) tone in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and PFC-dependent cognitive functions (for example, working memory, selective attention, executive function) may be described by an inverted-U-shaped function, in which both excessively high and low DA is associated with impairment. In the PFC, the COMT val158met single nucleotide polymorphism (rs4680) confers differences in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) efficacy and DA tone, and individuals homozygous for the val allele display significantly reduced cortical DA. Many studies have investigated whether val158met genotype moderates the effects of dopaminergic drugs on PFC-dependent cognitive functions. A review of 25 such studies suggests evidence for this pharmacogenetic effect is mixed for stimulants and COMT inhibitors, which have greater effects on D1 receptors, and strong for antipsychotics, which have greater effects on D2 receptors. Overall, COMT val158met genotype represents an enticing target for identifying individuals who are more likely to respond positively to dopaminergic drugs.
Project description:Cognitive deficits such as poor selective attention and executive functions decline have been reported in patients with schizophrenia. Many studies have emphasized the role of dopamine in regulating cognitive functions in the general population as well as in schizophrenia. However, the relationship between cognitive processes, schizophrenia and dopaminergic candidate genes is an original approach given interesting results. The purpose of the current exploratory study was to examine the interaction of dopaminergic genes (coding for dopamine receptor D2, DRD2, and for Catecholamine-O-Methyl-Transferase, COMT) with the diagnostic of schizophrenia in (i) the executive control of attention, (ii) selective attention, and (iii) executive functions.We recruited 52 patients with schizophrenia and 53 healthy controls who performed the Stroop Color-Word Test, the Attention Network Test and the Wisconsin Card Sorting test. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the DRD2 gene (rs6275, rs6277, rs2242592 and rs1800497) and two SNPs in the COMT gene (rs4680 and rs165599) have been genotyped. Patients with schizophrenia performed significantly worse than controls in all cognitive performance, taking into account demographic variables. A significant gene by disease interaction was found for the Stroop interference (p = 0.002) for rs6275 of the DRD2 gene. The COMT Val/Val genotype and schizophrenia were associated with increased number of perseverative errors (p = 0.01).In our study, the DRD2 gene is involved in attention while the COMT gene is implicated in executive functions in patients with schizophrenia.
Project description:Cognitive dysfunction is common among patients with brain tumors and can be associated with the disease and treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, little is known about genetic risk factors that may moderate the vulnerability for developing cognitive dysfunction. In this study, we examined the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and dystrobrevin-binding protein 1 (DTNBP1) genes with cognitive functions and neuroimaging outcomes in patients with brain tumors.One hundred and fifty patients with brain tumors completed neuropsychological tests of attention, executive functions, and memory and were genotyped for polymorphisms in the COMT, BDNF, and DTNBP1 genes. Ratings of white matter (WM) abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging scans were performed.Multivariate regression shrinkage analyses, adjusted for age, education, treatment type, time since treatment completion, and tumor location, indicated a significant association between the COMT SNP rs4680 (Val158Met) and memory with lower scores in delayed recall (P < .01) among homozygotes (valine/valine). Additional COMT, BDNF and DTNBP1 SNPs were significantly associated with attention, executive functions, and memory scores.This is the first study to suggest that known and newly described polymorphisms in genes associated with executive and memory functions in healthy individuals and other clinical populations may modulate cognitive outcome in patients with brain tumors.
Project description:The adverse effects of cannabis use on executive functions are still controversial, fostering the need for novel biomarkers able to unveil individual differences in the cognitive impact of cannabis consumption. Two common genetic polymorphisms have been linked to the neuroadaptive impact of ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exposure and to executive functions in animals: the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene val158met polymorphism and the SLC6A4 gene 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. We aimed to test if these polymorphisms moderate the harmful effects of cannabis use on executive function in young cannabis users. We recruited 144 participants: 86 cannabis users and 58 non-drug user controls. Both groups were genotyped and matched for genetic makeup, sex, age, education, and IQ. We used a computerized neuropsychological battery to assess different aspects of executive functions: sustained attention (CANTAB Rapid Visual Information Processing Test, RVIP), working memory (N-back), monitoring/shifting (CANTAB ID/ED set shifting), planning (CANTAB Stockings of Cambridge, SOC), and decision-making (Iowa Gambling Task, IGT). We used general linear model-based analyses to test performance differences between cannabis users and controls as a function of genotypes. We found that: (i) daily cannabis use is not associated with executive function deficits; and (ii) COMT val158met and 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms moderate the link between cannabis use and executive performance. Cannabis users carrying the COMT val/val genotype exhibited lower accuracy of sustained attention, associated with a more strict response bias, than val/val non-users. Cannabis users carrying the COMT val allele also committed more monitoring/shifting errors than cannabis users carrying the met/met genotype. Finally, cannabis users carrying the 5-HTTLPR s/s genotype had worse IGT performance than s/s non-users. COMT and SLC6A4 genes moderate the impact of cannabis use on executive functions.
Project description:The Val158Met (rs4680) single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene (COMT) influences executive function and prefrontal function through its effect on dopamine (DA) metabolism. Both HIV and the Val allele of the Val158Met SNP are associated with compromised executive function and inefficient prefrontal function. The present study used behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to determine independent and interactive associations between HIV serostatus and COMT genotype on working memory and prefrontal function in women. For the behavioral study, 54 HIV-infected and 33 HIV-uninfected women completed the 0-, 1-, and 2-back conditions of the verbal N-back, a working memory test. For the imaging study, 36 women (23 HIV-infected, 13 HIV-uninfected) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) assessments while completing the N-back task. HIV-infected women demonstrated significantly worse N-back performance compared with HIV-uninfected women (p < 0.05). A significant serostatus by genotype interaction (p < 0.01) revealed that, among Val/Val, but not Met allele carriers, HIV-infected women performed significantly worse than HIV-uninfected controls across N-back conditions (p < 0.01). Analogous to behavioral findings, a serostatus by genotype interaction revealed that HIV-infected Val/Val carriers showed significantly greater prefrontal activation compared with HIV-uninfected Val/Val carriers (p < 0.01). Conversely, HIV-uninfected Met allele carriers demonstrated significantly greater prefrontal activation compared with HIV-infected Met allele carriers. Findings suggest that the combination of HIV infection and the Val/Val COMT genotype leads to working memory deficits and altered prefrontal function in HIV-infected individuals.