American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric Genetics: The Official Publication of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics
Monozygotic (MZ) twin concordance for a range of psychiatric conditions is rarely 100%. It has been suggested that epigenetic factors, such as DNA methylation, may account for a proportion of the variation in behavioral traits observed between these genetically identical individuals. In this study we have quantitatively assessed the methylation status of two CpG sites in the promoter region of the COMT gene in 12 MZ twins-pairs discordant for birth weight, but otherwise clinically unaffected. DNA was obtained at age 5-years using buccal swabs, and modified using sodium-bisulfite treatment.
OBJECTIVE: Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) and Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) had been reported to relate to depression but with inconsistent results. The basal ganglia are also important in the pathophysiology of affective disorder via connections with limbic system and prefrontal cortex. The authors examined the relationship between an interaction of COMT/MTHFR polymorphisms and volumes of putamen in depressed and nondepressed elders. METHODS: Participants included 170 depressed and 83 nondepressed subjects aged 60 years or older.
BACKGROUND: Research suggests that the COMT Val(158)Met, BDNF Val(66)Met and OPRM1 A(118)G polymorphisms moderate the experience of pain. In order to obtain experimental confirmation and extension of findings, cortical processing of experimentally-induced pain was used. METHOD: A sample of 78 individuals with chronic low back pain complaints and 37 healthy controls underwent EEG registration. Event-Related Potentials were measured in response to electrical nociceptive stimuli and moderation by COMT Val(158)Met, BDNF Val(66)Met and OPRM1 A(118)G polymorphisms was assessed.
The failure in the discovery of etiology of psychiatric diseases, despite extensive genetic studies, has directed the attention of neuroscientists to the contribution of epigenetic modulations, which play important roles in fine-tuning of gene expression in response to environmental factors.
The interaction of genetic and environmental factors may affect the course and development of psychotic disorders. We examined whether the effects of childhood trauma on cognition and symptoms in schizophrenia were moderated by the Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val(158)Met polymorphism, a common genetic variant known to affect cognition and prefrontal dopamine levels. Participants were 429 schizophrenia/schizoaffective cases from the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB).
Many genetic studies report mixed results both for the associations between COMT polymorphisms and schizophrenia and for the effects of COMT variants on common intermediate phenotypes of the disorder. Reasons for this may include small genetic effect sizes and the modulation of environmental influences.
Substance use often starts in adolescence and poses a major problem for society and individual health. The dopamine system plays a role in substance use, and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an important enzyme that degrades dopamine. The Val(108/158) Met polymorphism modulates COMT activity and thus dopamine levels, and has been linked to substance use. COMT gene methylation, on the other hand, may affect expression and thus indirectly COMT activity. We investigated whether methylation of the COMT gene was associated with adolescents' substance use.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by mood, vegetative, cognitive, and even psychotic symptoms and signs that can cause substantial impairments in quality of life and functioning. Biomarkers are measurable indicators that could help diagnosing MDD or predicting treatment response. In this chapter, lipid profiles, immune/inflammation, and neurotrophic factor pathways that have long been implicated in the pathogenesis of MDD are discussed.
Findings from twin studies yield heritability estimates of 0.50 for prosocial behaviours like empathy, cooperativeness and altruism. First molecular genetic studies underline the influence of polymorphisms located on genes coding for the receptors of the neuropeptides, oxytocin and vasopressin. However, the proportion of variance explained by these gene loci is rather low indicating that additional genetic variants must be involved. Pharmacological studies show that the dopaminergic system interacts with oxytocin and vasopressin.
Only recently have studies of electrocortical activity, event-related potentials, and regional cerebral blood flow begun to shed light on the anatomical and neurobiological underpinnings of hypnosis. Since twin studies show a significant heritable component for hypnotizability, we were prompted to examine the role of a common, functional polymorphism in contributing to individual differences in hypnotizability. A group of 109 subjects (51 male, 59 female) were administered three psychological instruments and tested for the high/low enzyme activity COMT val-->met polymorphism.