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Mol Psychiatry. 2007 Jun;12(6):556-61. Epub 2007 Jan 30.

The met(158) allele of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder in men: case-control study and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK.

Abstract

Existing data suggest a genetic association between the met(158) allele of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, the results are inconclusive and complicated by possible gender differences. We sought to resolve the question in two ways. First, we carried out a new case-control study in 87 adults with OCD and 327 healthy comparison subjects. The study replicated reports of an increased met(158) allele frequency in men with OCD (odds ratio (OR)=1.91, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.07-3.40, P=0.026), with no effect in women (OR=1.13, 95% CI 0.74-1.72, P=0.56). Second, we performed a meta-analysis of all published case-control data (n=1908 subjects). This revealed an association of COMT met(158) with OCD (OR=1.23, 95% CI 1.06-1.42, P=0.005) and an interaction with gender (z=4.27, P<0.0001). The association between COMT met(158) and OCD was present in men (OR=1.88, 95% CI 1.45-2.44, P<0.001) but not in women (OR=0.98, 95% CI 0.78-1.22, P=0.83). We conclude that COMT may play a role in the genetic aetiology of OCD in men. The biological plausibility of the association is increased by the functionality of the val(158)met polymorphism in terms of its effect on COMT enzyme activity, and by the role of COMT in cortical dopamine signalling and information processing. The finding also extends the evidence for sexual dimorphism in COMT and in OCD.

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