The COMT val158met polymorphism is associated with peak BMD in men

Mattias Lorentzon, Anna-Lena Eriksson, Dan Mellström, Claes Ohlsson
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2004, 19 (12): 2005-11

UNLABELLED: The associations between the functional val158met polymorphism of the estrogen-degrading COMT enzyme and skeletal properties in young men were investigated. BMD was associated with COMT genotype.

INTRODUCTION: Peak BMD is an important predictor of future risk of osteoporosis, and it is to a large extent determined by genetic factors. Estrogens are involved in the accretion of bone mass during puberty. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is involved in the degradation of estrogens. There is a functional polymorphism in the COMT gene (val158met), resulting in a 60-75% difference in enzyme activity between the val (high activity [H]) and met (low activity [L]) variants. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the associations between this polymorphism and peak BMD in young men.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 458 healthy men (mean age, 19 +/- 0.6 years) were genotyped and classified as COMT(LL), COMT(HL), or COMT(HH). Areal BMD (aBMD) was measured by DXA. Cortical and trabecular volumetric BMD (vBMD) were measured by pQCT. The associations between COMT genotype and skeletal phenotypes were determined.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Regression models using physical activity, height, weight, age, and COMT genotype as covariates showed that COMT genotype was an independent predictor of aBMD in the total body and in all femur locations investigated, but not in the spine. The values for COMT(HL) and COMT(HH) were very similar, and therefore, they were pooled into one group. aBMD at Ward's triangle, trochanter, and total femur were 4.9%, 4.5%, and 3.7% lower, respectively, in the COMT(LL) than in the COMT(HL/HH) group (p < 0.01). pQCT analyses showed that COMT genotype was an independent predictor of trabecular vBMD of the tibia, radius, and fibula. Trabecular vBMD of the radius and fibula in COMT(LL) was 5.3% and 7.4% lower, respectively, than that of the combined COMT(HL/HH) group. COMT genotype was associated with cortical vBMD but not with cortical cross-sectional area in the tibia. These findings show that the COMT polymorphism is associated with BMD in young adult men.

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