Low expression of catecholamine-O-methyl-transferase gene in obsessive-compulsive disorder

J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Jun;23(5):660-4. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.02.004. Epub 2009 Feb 11.


This study examined peripheral catecholamine-O-methyl-transferase (COMT) gene expression in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients and healthy controls. Participants included 35 first episode OCD patients and 31 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Relative COMT gene expression levels were examined by real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in peripheral blood of all the subjects. COMT gene expression levels, normalized by glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), were significantly decreased in the OCD group compared with healthy controls (F=6.244, p=0.015). OCD patients showed a 32% down-regulation. We also found lower COMT gene expression levels in female in comparison to male participants (F=5.366, p=0.024) in the sample as a whole. COMT gene expression down-regulation of male OCD patients relative to male controls is 38%, and that of female OCD patients relative to female controls is 27%. These results suggest that COMT gene expression down-regulation might play an important role in the development of OCD and that there may be gender differences in this alteration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes
  • Male
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / genetics*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • RNA / blood
  • RNA / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Peptide Fragments
  • glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (304-313)
  • RNA
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase