Genetic polymorphism of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), involved in the degradation of catecholamine neurotransmitters, has been investigated as a candidate for modifier of susceptibility to development of schizophrenia. To address this issue further, we carried out a study in Korean schizophrenic patients and controls. The study population consisted of 103 Korean inpatients diagnosed as schizophrenic and their 103 age and sex matched controls. The patients were divided into two groups on the basis of history of aggressive behavior, family history of schizophrenia and related disorders, and age at onset of the disease. The COMT genotypes were determined by a PCR based method. No statistically significant overall associations between the COMT genotypes and risk of schizophrenia were observed. However, subjects with at least one low activity associated COMT-L allele showed a tendency of elevated risk for schizophrenia (OR=1.7, 95% CI=0.9-3.1) compared with those homozygous for the high activity associated COMT-H alleles. Moreover, when cases were stratified by family history of schizophrenia, a significant combined effect was seen: the cases with concurrent family history of schizophrenia and the COMT-L allele containing genotypes had an almost 4-fold (OR=3.9, 95% CI=1.1-14.3) higher risk of schizophrenia compared to controls with the COMT-HH genotypes. Future studies with larger sample sizes are, however, needed to confirm this novel finding.
- Age at onset
- Catechol-O-methyltransferase polymorphism
- Family history