Polymorphisms in catechol-O-methyltransferase modify treatment effects of aspirin on risk of cardiovascular disease

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2014 Sep;34(9):2160-7. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.114.303845. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


Objective: Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), a key enzyme in catecholamine metabolism, is implicated in cardiovascular, sympathetic, and endocrine pathways. This study aimed to confirm preliminary association of COMT genetic variation with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD). It further aimed to evaluate whether aspirin, a commonly used CVD prevention agent, modified the potential association of COMT with incident CVD.

Approach and results: We examined COMT polymorphism rs4680 (MAF [minor allele frequency], 0.47), encoding a nonsynonymous methionine-to-valine substitution, in the Women's Genome Health Study (WGHS), a large population-based cohort of women with randomized allocation to aspirin or vitamin E when compared with placebo and 10-year follow-up. Rs4680 effects were confirmed with COMT polymorphism rs4818 and also examined in Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-wide Replication and Meta-analysis/The Coronary Artery Disease Genetics Consortium, consortia for genome-wide association studies of coronary artery disease. Among WGHS women allocated to placebo (135 events/n=5811), the rs4680 valine allele was protective against incident CVD relative to the methionine (hazard ratio [HR; 95% confidence interval {CI}], 0.66 [0.51-0.84]; P=0.0007); an association also observed in Coronary ARtery DIsease Genome-wide Replication and Meta-analysis and The Coronary Artery Disease Genetics Consortium (combined P=2.4×10(-5)). In the WGHS, the rs4680 association was abolished by randomized allocation to aspirin, such that valine/valine women experienced higher CVD rates with aspirin allocation when compared with placebo (HR [95% CI], 1.85 [1.05-3.25]; P=0.033), whereas methionine/methionine women experienced lower rates (HR [95% CI], 0.60 [0.39-0.93]; P=0.023). Allocation to vitamin E also conferred higher but nonsignificant CVD rates on valine/valine (HR [95% CI], 1.50 [0.83-2.70]; P=0.180) when compared with significantly lower rates on methionine/methionine (HR [95% CI], 0.53 [0.34-0.84]; P=0.006) women. Rs4818 results were similar.

Conclusions: Common COMT polymorphisms were associated with incident CVD, and this association was modified by randomized allocation to aspirin or vitamin E. Replication of these findings is required.

Keywords: aspirin; catecholamines; vitamin E.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Aspirin / pharmacology
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / enzymology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use


  • Vitamin E
  • COMT protein, human
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase
  • Aspirin