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Schizophr Res. 2007 Feb;90(1-3):86-96. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

COMT val108/158met genotype, cognitive function, and cognitive improvement with clozapine in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203, USA.


Preliminary evidence suggests that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), the val108/158met SNP, within the gene that codes for catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), a key enzyme involved in regulating dopamine (DA) transmission within the prefrontal cortex (PFC), is related to cognitive function in schizophrenia and cognitive improvement with atypical antipsychotic drugs (APDs). Specifically, several studies have identified an association between working memory and executive functions, and COMT val108/158met genotype in schizophrenia; although there have been several negative findings that are likely related to small sample sizes and, possibly, medication status of patients at the time of testing. The association between COMT val108/158met genotype, cognitive function, and cognitive improvement with clozapine was investigated in a relatively large prospective sample of patients with schizophrenia, most of whom were unmedicated at baseline. Patients were genotyped for the COMT val108/158met SNP after completing a cognitive battery consisting of tests of attention, working memory, verbal learning and memory, executive function, and verbal fluency at baseline and after 6 weeks and 6 months of treatment with clozapine. Consistent with several previous studies, an association between COMT genotype and tests of executive function and working memory was identified at baseline. In addition, a novel interaction between genotype and improvement on tests of attention and verbal fluency was identified. Specifically, met homozygous and val/met heterozygous patients demonstrated significantly greater improvement than val homozygous patients following 6 months of treatment with clozapine. The results are discussed in relation to previous cross-sectional studies and prospective investigations of the associations between COMT genotype, cognition, and cognitive improvement with atypical APDs in schizophrenia.

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