Association between the Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158met polymorphism and different dimensions of impulsivity

Leandro Fernandes Malloy-Diniz, Guilherme Menezes Lage, Simone Becho Campos, Jonas Jardim de Paula, Danielle de Souza Costa, Marco Aurélio Romano-Silva, Débora Marques de Miranda, Humberto Correa
PloS One 2013, 8 (9): e73509

BACKGROUND: Impulsivity is a multidimensional construct which has been associated with dopaminergic neurotransmission. Nonetheless, until this moment, few studies addressed the relationship between different types of impulsivity and the single nucleotide polymorphism caused by a substitution of valine (val) with methionine (met) in the 158 codon of the Catechol-o-Methyltransferase gene (COMT-val158met). The present study aimed to investigate the association between val158met COMT polymorphism and impulsive behavior measured by two neuropsychological tests.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We administered two neuropsychological tests, a Continuous Performance Task and the Iowa Gambling Task were applied to 195 healthy participants to characterize their levels of motor, attentional and non-planning impulsivity. Then, subjects were grouped by genotype, and their scores on impulsivity measures were compared. There were no significant differences between group scores on attentional and motor impulsivity. Those participants who were homozygous for the met allele performed worse in the Iowa Gambling Task than val/val and val/met subjects.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results suggest that met allele of val158met COMT polymorphism is associated with poor performance in decision-making/cognitive impulsivity task. The results reinforce the hypothesis that val and met alleles of the val158met polymorphism show functional dissociation and are related to different prefrontal processes.

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