OBJECTIVE - The objective of the current study was to examine the relationship between the COMT Val(158)Met polymorphism and neuropsychological performance in depressed and nondepressed older adults.
METHODS - One hundred and twenty-six clinically depressed older adults and 105 nondepressed comparison participants were compared on neuropsychological performance and COMT Val(158)Met (Val/Val, Val/Met, Met/Met).
RESULTS - Based on multivariate regression models, the COMT Val(158)Met polymorphism was not associated with cognitive performance among depressed or nondepressed individuals, nor did this polymorphism account for the fact that depressed individuals performed worse than nondepressed individuals on several neuropsychological tests that are typically affected by depression. There was also no difference in frequency of the COMT Val(158)Met alleles between depressed and nondepressed individuals.
CONCLUSIONS - Although the current study found no association between COMT Val(158)Met polymorphism on a number of clinical neuropsychological tests that are typically found to be sensitive to depression, differential effects of the COMT Val(158)Met polymorphism on dopamine transmission in psychiatric and non-psychiatric populations may be further clarified by clinical research with neuroscience-based paradigms that segregate cognitive tasks into component processes with precise neural substrates, particularly with respect to the complex functions of the prefrontal cortex. Negative results can be important to narrowing down target processes and understanding the influence of clinical and demographic characteristics in studies of psychiatric genetics.
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