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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29283. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029283. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

Catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met polymorphism associates with individual differences in sleep physiologic responses to chronic sleep loss.

Author information

  • 1Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. goel@mail.med.upenn.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The COMT Val158Met polymorphism modulates cortical dopaminergic catabolism, and predicts individual differences in prefrontal executive functioning in healthy adults and schizophrenic patients, and associates with EEG differences during sleep loss. We assessed whether the COMT Val158Met polymorphism was a novel marker in healthy adults of differential vulnerability to chronic partial sleep deprivation (PSD), a condition distinct from total sleep loss and one experienced by millions on a daily and persistent basis.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

20 Met/Met, 64 Val/Met, and 45 Val/Val subjects participated in a protocol of two baseline 10h time in bed (TIB) nights followed by five consecutive 4 h TIB nights. Met/Met subjects showed differentially steeper declines in non-REM EEG slow-wave energy (SWE)-the putative homeostatic marker of sleep drive-during PSD, despite comparable baseline SWE declines. Val/Val subjects showed differentially smaller increases in slow-wave sleep and smaller reductions in stage 2 sleep during PSD, and had more stage 1 sleep across nights and a shorter baseline REM sleep latency. The genotypes, however, did not differ in performance across various executive function and cognitive tasks and showed comparable increases in subjective and physiological sleepiness in response to chronic sleep loss. Met/Met genotypic and Met allelic frequencies were higher in whites than African Americans.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

The COMT Val158Met polymorphism may be a genetic biomarker for predicting individual differences in sleep physiology-but not in cognitive and executive functioning-resulting from sleep loss in a healthy, racially-diverse adult population of men and women. Beyond healthy sleepers, our results may also provide insight for predicting sleep loss responses in patients with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders, since these groups repeatedly experience chronically-curtailed sleep and demonstrate COMT-related treatment responses and risk factors for symptom exacerbation.

© 2011 Goel et al.

PMID:
22216231
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3246458
Free PMC Article

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