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Keywords:

  • catechol-O-methyltransferase;
  • bipolar affective disorder;
  • schizophrenia;
  • linkage disequilibrium;
  • association;
  • Ashkenazi Jews

Abstract

A variety of psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have been reported in patients with microdeletion on chromosome 22q11—a region which includes the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene. The variety of psychiatric manifestations in patients with the 22q11 microdeletion and the role of COMT in the degradation of catecholamine neurotransmitters may thus suggest a general involvement of the COMT gene in psychiatric diseases. We have previously reported on a significant association between a COMT haplotype and schizophrenia. In this study, we attempt to test for association between bipolar disorder and the polymorphisms implicated in schizophrenia. The association between COMT and bipolar disorder was tested by examining the allele and haplotype found to be associated with schizophrenia. A significant association between bipolar disorder and COMT polymorphisms was found. The estimated relative risk is greater in women, a result consistent with our previous findings in schizophrenia. We suggest that polymorphisms in the COMT gene may influence susceptibility to both diseases—and probably also a wider range of behavioral traits. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.