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Mol Med Rep. 2013 Sep;8(3):837-44. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2013.1564. Epub 2013 Jul 1.

Gender effects of the COMT Val 158 Met genotype on verbal fluency in healthy adults.

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  • 1Mood Disorders Unit GRUDA, Department and Institute of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo (HC‑FMUSP), São Paulo, Brazil.


Cognitive performance in healthy individuals is associated with gender differences in specific tests; a female advantage has been demonstrated in language tests, whereas a male advantage has been demonstrated in spatial relation examinations. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) mediates important cognitive domains and is influenced by dopamine (DA) activity. The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs4680 in the catechol‑O‑methyltransferase (COMT) gene results in an amino acid substitution from valine (Val) to methionine (Met). The Met allele has been demonstrated to decrease COMT enzyme activity and improve PFC cognitive function. COMT regulates DA activity in the PFC and exhibits gender effects. The aim of the present study was to investigate the gender‑specific effects of the COMT genotype on cognition in healthy young adults. Seventy‑six healthy subjects were genotyped for COMT rs4680 and submitted to an extensive range of neuropsychological tests assessing aspects of PFC function. The COMT Met allele influenced the performance of executive function. The results revealed gender effects of the COMT rs4680 Met allele on verbal fluency, with positive effects in males and negative effects in females. This suggested that DA activity affects cognitive function in different ways, according to gender.

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