COMT Val158Met and cognitive and functional outcomes after traumatic brain injury

Catherine Willmott, Toni Withiel, Jennie Ponsford, Richard Burke
Journal of Neurotrauma 2014 September 1, 31 (17): 1507-14
There is significant variability in long-term outcomes after traumatic brain injury (TBI), making accurate prognosis difficult. In seeking to enhance understanding of outcomes, this study aimed to investigate whether COMT Val(158)Met allele status was associated with performance on neuropsychological measures of attention and working memory, executive functioning, learning and memory, and speed of information processing in the early rehabilitation phase. The study also aimed to examine whether the COMT polymorphism was associated with longer-term functional outcomes. A total of 223 participants (71.3% male) with moderate-to-severe TBI were recruited as rehabilitation inpatients to participate in a prospective, longitudinal head injury outcome study. The three COMT genotype groups (Val/Val, Val/Met, and Met/Met) were well matched for estimated full-scale IQ, years of education, age at injury, and injury severity. Results showed no significant difference between genotypes on neuropsychological measures (all p>0.05) or functional outcome, as measured by the Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended (GOS-E), after controlling for age, education, and severity of injury. The presence of frontal lobe pathology was also not associated with cognitive performance. Those with greater injury severity (i.e., longer duration of post-traumatic amnesia) performed more poorly on measures of processing speed and verbal new learning and recall. It was concluded that there was little support for the influence of COMT Val(158)Met on cognitive function, or functional outcome measures, in the acute rehabilitation phase after TBI.

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