Association of the low-activity COMT 158Met allele with ADHD and OCD in subjects with velocardiofacial syndrome

Doron Gothelf, Elena Michaelovsky, Amos Frisch, Ada H. Zohar, Gadi Presburger, Merav Burg, Ayala Aviram-Goldring, Moshe Frydman, Josepha Yeshaya, Mordechai Shohat, Michael Korostishevsky, Alan Apter, Abraham Weizman

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59 Scopus citations


Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) is caused by a microdeletion in chromosome 22 and is a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), residing in the 22q11.2 microdeletion region, is a major candidate gene for genetic susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders in VCFS. Individuals with VCFS carrying the low-activity allele (COMTL) are expected to have the lowest possible COMT activity since they have only a single copy of the gene. We explored the possibility that COMTL is associated with psychiatric disorders commonly found in VCFS. Fifty-five unrelated individuals with VCFS underwent psychiatric evaluation and were genotyped for the COMT 158Val/Met polymorphism coding for COMT high/low-activity alleles. The COMTL allele was significantly more prevalent in VCFS subjects with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (73.9% vs. 33.3%, OR 5.67, χ2=7.76, p=0.005) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (78.6% vs. 33.3%, OR 7.33, χ2=7.24, p=0.007) than in the control group (VCFS subjects without OCD, ADHD and schizophrenia/schizoaffective (SZ/SZaff) disorder). The results of this study suggest that greatly reduced COMT activity, as expected in VCFS COMTL individuals may be a risk factor for psychiatric sequelae in this population. Future longitudinal studies focusing on additional COMT polymorphic sites and other candidate genes from the deleted region will elucidate the molecular pathways leading to schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in VCFS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • 22q11.2 deletion
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Polymorphism
  • Schizophrenia


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