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Neurosci Lett. 2013 Mar 14;537:17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.01.012. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

COMT and MTHFR polymorphisms interaction on cognition in schizophrenia: an exploratory study.

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Unit for the Study of Cognition in Psychosis, Psychiatric Hospital of Attica, Athens, Greece.


The investigation of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT-[rs4680]) and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR-[rs1801133]) polymorphisms' interaction might shed light into the pathogenetic mechanisms of the cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. In an exploratory study, we hypothesized that the MTHFR 677T allele which has been related to a hypoactive MTHFR enzyme would augment the unfavorable effects of COMT Val158 homozygosity which has been associated with COMT enzyme hyperfunction. 90 schizophrenia patients and 55 healthy volunteers were assessed on psychomotor speed, pattern and spatial recognition memory (SRM), spatial working memory (SWM), attentional flexibility and planning (Stockings of Cambridge-SOC). IQ scores in a random subgroup of patients were also measured. A significant COMT×MTHFR interaction on SWM (p=0.048) and planning (p=0.026) was revealed in both groups. Among COMT-Val/Val participants, MTHFR-C/C made more SWM errors (p=0.033) and solved fewer SOC problems (p=0.025) than MTHFR-T carriers. In patients, there was a significant COMT×MTHFR interaction on full scale IQ (p=0.035): among COMT-Met carriers, MTHFR-T carriers performed significantly worse than MTHFR-C/C (p=0.021), which was driven by a COMT×MTHFR interaction involving performance IQ (p=0.047). In conclusion, COMT and MTHFR polymorphisms interacted on cognition, suggesting that the MTHFR enzyme activity might moderate the effects of the COMT enzyme. In contrast to our initial hypothesis, the MTHFR T-allele attenuated the cognitive effects of COMT Val homozygosity. In this preliminary study, we propose that dopaminergic and intracellular methylation mechanisms could interact on cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.

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