Catechol-O-methyl transferase Val158Met gene polymorphism in schizophrenia: working memory, frontal lobe MRI morphology and frontal cerebral blood flow

Mol Psychiatry. 2005 Mar;10(3):229, 287-98. doi: 10.1038/


The catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) gene is considered a leading schizophrenia candidate gene. Although its role in increasing schizophrenia susceptibility has been conflicting, recent studies suggest the valine allele may contribute to poor cognitive function in schizophrenia. V(158)M COMT genotype was obtained on 159 schizophrenia patients and 84 healthy controls. The effects of COMT genotype on four measures of working memory/executive functions (Wisconsin Card Sorting, digit span backward, Trail Making and N-back tests) and on MRI frontal brain volumes were examined. Genotype distributions were not significantly different between patients and controls. There were no significant genotype or genotype-by-group effects on any working memory/executive function measures. No genotype or genotype-by-diagnosis interaction effects were found with MRI frontal lobe volumes. Randomization analyses using [(15)O]H(2)O positron emission tomography (PET) cerebral blood flow data found Val/Val patients had higher frontal lobe activation than Met/Met patients while performing the one-back task. Overall, these findings do not support a major role for COMT in increasing susceptibility for schizophrenia or in mediating frontal lobe function. Age-related changes and phenotypic heterogeneity of schizophrenia may influence the complex relationships between COMT genotype and cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / blood supply
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Oxygen Radioisotopes
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*


  • Oxygen Radioisotopes
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase