Association between catechol-O-methyltransferase and phobic anxiety

Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;161(9):1703-5. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.9.1703.


Objective: The authors assessed the association between the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism and scores on the phobic anxiety scale of the Crown-Crisp Experimental Index.

Method: A total of 1,234 women completed the Crown-Crisp Experimental Index phobic anxiety scale and were genotyped for the COMT polymorphism. The authors used unconditional logistic regression to compute odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to evaluate the association between the COMT genotype and phobic anxiety.

Results: The mean scores for the three genotypes were statistically significantly different. Compared to the COMT Met/Met genotype, the age-adjusted odds ratio for scoring >/=6 compared to scoring 0 or 1 were 1.15 (95% CI=0.71-1.85) and 1.99 (95% CI=1.17-3.40) for the COMT Val/Met and COMT Val/Val genotypes, respectively; a significant gene dosage effect was observed.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the functional COMT polymorphism is associated with the development of phobic anxiety.

MeSH terms

  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 22 / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 22 / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / enzymology
  • Phobic Disorders / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / enzymology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States


  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase
  • Dopamine