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Neuromolecular Med. 2014 Mar;16(1):83-93. doi: 10.1007/s12017-013-8255-9. Epub 2013 Aug 21.

Complex multilocus effects of catechol-O-methyltransferase haplotypes predict pain and pain interference 6 weeks after motor vehicle collision.

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TRYUMPH Research Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.


Catechol-O-methyltransferase, encoded by COMT gene, is the primary enzyme that metabolizes catecholamines. COMT haplotypes have been associated with vulnerability to persistent non-traumatic pain. In this prospective observational study, we investigated the influence of COMT on persistent pain and pain interference with life functions after motor vehicle collision (MVC) in 859 European American adults for whom overall pain (0-10 numeric rating scale) and pain interference (Brief Pain Inventory) were assessed at week 6 after MVC. Ten single nucleotide polymorphisms spanning the COMT gene were successfully genotyped, and nine were present in three haploblocks: block 1 (rs2020917, rs737865, rs1544325), block 2 (rs4633, rs4818, rs4680, rs165774), and block 3 (rs174697, rs165599). After adjustment for multiple comparisons, haplotype TCG from block 1 predicted decreased pain interference (p = 0.004). The pain-protective effect of the low pain sensitivity (CGGG) haplotype from block 2 was only observed if at least one TCG haplotype was present in block 1 (haplotype × haplotype interaction p = 0.002 and <0.0001 for pain and pain interference, respectively). Haplotype AG from block 3 was associated with pain and interference in males only (sex × haplotype interaction p = 0.005 and 0.0005, respectively). These results suggest that genetic variants in the distal promoter are important contributors to the development of persistent pain after MVC, directly and via the interaction with haplotypes in the coding region of the gene.

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