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The Role of Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) Gene in the Etiopathogenesis of Schizophrenia

Ceren Acar, Şükrü Kartalcı.

Genetic factors in the risk of developing schizophrenia is of great importance. With the help of the advances in the field of genetics in recent years by using linkage analysis several genes have been identified that may be a risk factor in schizophrenia. Several association studies have been performed in many different populations on the candidate susceptibility genes that were defined in previous studies. However, these studies give controversial results in different countries with different populations, and there are problems in obtaining replicable results. In this review we aimed to focus on the genetic basis of schizophrenia and the relationship between schizophrenia and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene. COMT encodes an enzyme molecule which has an important function in dopamine pathways. It has great importance in catecholamine metabolism and pharmacology and genetic mechanism of catechol metabolism variations and their clinical consequences. COMT transfers the methyl group from S-adenosyl-methionine to the hydroxyl group of catechol nucleus (such as dopamine, norepinephrine or catechol estrogen). Genetic variations found in COMT gene are associated with a broad spectrum of clinical phenotype including psychiatric disorders or estrogen related cancers. Several groups have performed studies on the relationship between schizophrenia and COMT. The most commonly studied polymorphism in COMT gene is rs4680 and it causes a valine methionine conversion at codon 158. The association studies on this polymorphism in different populations gave both positive and negative results. Schizoprenia is a complex disease caused by the interaction of environmental and genetic factors, while interpreting the genetic data, this fact and the possibility of the presence of different gene products should be taken into account.

Key words: Schizophrenia, COMT, polymorphism, candidate gene

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