Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Sep;211(4):389-401. doi: 10.1007/s00213-010-1944-2. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

Effect of S-COMT deficiency on behavior and extracellular brain dopamine concentrations in mice.

Author information

  • 1Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 56, 00014, Helsinki, Finland.



Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) has soluble (S-COMT) and membrane bound (MB-COMT) isoforms. Our aims were to assess the behavioral phenotype of S-COMT mutant mice and to clarify the role of MB-COMT in dopamine metabolism in different brain areas.


Behavioral phenotype of the S-COMT mutant mice was assessed using a test battery designed to describe anxiety phenotype, spontaneous locomotor activity, sensorymotor gating, social behavior, and pain sensitivity. Microdialysis was used to explore the effect of S-COMT deficiency on extracellular dopamine under an L: -dopa load (carbidopa /L: -dopa 30/10 mg/kg i.p.).


In behavioral tests, mature adult S-COMT mutants that only possessed MB-COMT exhibited enhanced acoustic startle without alterations in sensorimotor gating. They also showed barbering of vibrissae and nonaggressive social dominance, suggesting a change in their social interactions. In addition, S-COMT deficiency slightly and sex-dependently affected spinal pain reflex and the effect of morphine on hot-plate latency. In microdialysis studies under L: -dopa load, S-COMT mutants of both sexes had higher accumbal dopamine levels, but male S-COMT mutant mice showed paradoxically lower prefrontal cortical dopamine concentrations than wild-type animals. S-COMT deficiency induced the accumulation of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid in all brain areas, which was accentuated after L: -dopa loading. The lack of S-COMT decreased extracellular homovanillic acid levels. However, after L: -dopa loading, homovanillic acid concentrations in the prefrontal cortex of S-COMT mutants were similar to those of wild-type mice.


A lack of S-COMT has a notable, albeit small, brain-area and sex-dependent effect on the O-methylation of dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid in the mouse brain. It also induces subtle changes in mouse social interaction behaviors and nociception.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk