Because of its location in a region previously linked to schizophrenia
(22q),1 and its critical involvement in
the homeostasis of dopamine metabolism in brain regions relevant for schizophrenia,
such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC),2,3
it was hypothesized that allelic variants of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene may modulate
the risk for this disorder. Recently, in accordance with this hypothesis,
an allele coding for an isoform with high enzymatic activity of the COMT (Val allele of the Val-108/158-Met polymorphism)
was associated or linked to schizophrenia.4
Moreover, it was shown in that study, part of the variance for the Wisconsin
Card Sorting Test (WCST; a neuropsychological test that maps mainly into the
DLPFC), performance was explained by the Val-108/158-Met polymorphism, both in schizophrenic patients and in
healthy controls, where subjects carrying 1 or 2 copies of the Val allele performed significantly worse on the WCST compared with
those who were homozygous for the Met allele. A similar
observation was made for the degree of bold activation in the DLPFC, measured
by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging, in 2 groups of nonaffected
siblings of schizophrenic patients while performing working memory tasks.
Mean ± SE percent of perseverative errors on the Wisconsin
Card Sorting Test (WCST) in schizophrenic patients and healthy volunteers
grouped according to genotype for the COMT geneVal-108/158-Met polymorphism (F2,122 = 2.79, P = .06). Post-hoc P values are
calculated using the least significant difference method.
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