Study of the Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) Gene with High Aggression in Children

Authors

  • Yuko Hirata,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Clement C. Zai,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Behdin Nowrouzi,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Joseph H. Beitchman,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • James L. Kennedy

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Psychiatry, Neurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • Contract grant sponsor: CAMH Foundation; contract grant sponsor: Howitt/Dunbar Foundation and Youthdale Treatment Centres; contract grant sponsor: Canadian Institute for Health Research; contract grant sponsor: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; contract grant sponsor: Eli Lilly.

Correspondence to: Joseph H. Beitchman, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 80 WW-5218 1001 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario M6J 1H4. E-mail: Joe_Beitchman@camh.ca or

Correspondence to: James L. Kennedy, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 250 College Street, Room R31, Toronto, ON, M5T1R8. E-mail: James_Kennedy@camh.ca

Abstract

The etiology of childhood-onset aggression (COA) is poorly understood, but early COA can be considered as a strong risk factor for adult delinquency and criminal behavior. Callous-unemotional (CU) traits have been proposed as a developmental model of antisocial behavior. Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) has been associated with aggression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other psychiatric disorders. We report an association study between COMT single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), childhood aggression, and the CU trait in our sample of 144 children with scores at or exceeding the 90th percentile on the aggression subscale of the parent-reported Child Behavior Checklist and the Teacher's Report Form. The genotype analysis of rs6269 showed nominally significant association (P = .019) and rs4818 showed a trend (P = .064) with COA. Trends were observed for rs6269 and rs4818 with CU scores (P < .10) as well. The analyses stratified by ADHD, or gender showed no significant results. This is the first report to our knowledge evaluating COMT SNPs with the phenotype of high aggression in children with a possible role for the COMT marker in CU traits. Given the importance of CU traits in antisocial behavior, further investigation of COMT is warranted. Aggr. Behav. 39:45-51, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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