, Volume 116, Issue 4, pp 319-328

Association of Ala72Ser polymorphism with COMT enzyme activity and the risk of schizophrenia in Koreans

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Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inactivates circulating catechol hormones, catechol neurotransmitters, and xenobiotic catecholamines by methylating their catechol moieties. The COMT gene has been suggested as a candidate gene for schizophrenia through linkage analyses and molecular studies of velo-cardio-facial syndrome. A coding polymorphism of the COMT gene at codon 108/158 (soluble/membrane-bound form) causing a valine to methionine substitution has been shown to influence enzyme activity, but its association with schizophrenia is inconclusive. We have screened 17 known polymorphisms of the COMT gene in 320 Korean schizophrenic patients and 379 controls to determine whether there is a positive association with a nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs6267) at codon 22/72 (soluble/membrane-bound form) causing an alanine-to-serine (Ala/Ser) substitution. With the Ala/Ala genotype as a reference group, the combined genotype (Ala/Ser and Ser/Ser)-specific adjusted odds ratio was 1.82 (95% CI=1.19–2.76; P=0.005), suggesting the Ser allele as a risk allele for schizophrenia. However, the Val/Met polymorphism was not associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia in Koreans (OR=0.88, 95% CI=0.64–1.21; P=0.43). The Ala72Ser substitution was correlated with reduced COMT enzyme activity. Our results support previous reports that the COMT haplotype implicated in schizophrenia is associated with low COMT expression.