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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Apr;22(4):259-66. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.08.007. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

The impact of COMT gene polymorphisms on suicidality in treatment resistant major depressive disorder--a European multicenter study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Many association studies have reported associations between the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene and psychiatric disorders including major depression (MDD). The COMT gene has further been associated with suicidal behaviour, as well as with treatment response, although with conflicting results. In the present study, we further elucidate the impact of COMT in treatment response in MDD patients with suicide risk and/or a personal history of suicide attempts. Two hundred fifty MDD patients were collected in the context of a European multicentre resistant depression study and treated with antidepressants at adequate doses for at least 4 weeks. Suicidality was assessed using Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D). Treatment response was defined as HAM-D ≤ 17 and remission as HAM-D ≤ 7 after 4 weeks of treatment with antidepressants at adequate dose. Genotyping was performed for seven SNPs (rs4680, rs2075507, rs737865, rs6269, rs4633, rs4818 and rs165599) within the COMT gene. With regard to suicide risk and personal history of suicide attempts, neither single marker nor haplotypic association was found with any SNP after multiple testing correction. In non-responders, we found significant single marker and haplotypic association with suicide risk, but not in responders. The same holds true for both remitters and non-remitters, and when testing for association with a personal history of suicide attempts and treatment response phenotypes. In conclusion, we found significant association of COMT SNPs with suicide risk in MDD patients not responding to antidepressant treatment. Larger well-defined cohorts will be required to dissect this further.

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