COMT genotype and cognitive ability: A longitudinal aging study

John Starr, Helen Fox, Sarah E. Harris, Ian J. Deary, Lawrence J. Whalley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dopaminergic neurotransmission in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) contributes to individual cognitive differences in animals and humans. Catechol-O-methyltransferase(COMT) influences dopamine concentration in the PFC. Functional variation in the human COMT gene occurs at a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-472G > A-that results in a valine (Val) to methionine (Met) amino acid substitution (Val 158Met). The Met/Met form is less active resulting in higher dopamine concentrations and thus may enhance cognitive function. We applied repeated measures mixed general linear modelling over three waves between ages 64 and 68 years to optimise cognitive phenotype characterisation in a cohort of 473 community volunteers who had validated childhood IQ data. After adjusting for childhood IQ, wave of testing and specific test type, COMT Val 158Met genotype polymorphism had a significant overall effect on cognition (F-2,F-935.7 = 7.92, p < .001) with adjusted means of all cognitive test scores taken together being: Val/Val 33.0 (95% C.I. 32.2-33.8), Val/Met 34.9 (95% C.I. 34.3-35.5), and Met/Met 34.9 (95% C.I. 34.1-35.8). This study adds to the evidence that the Val/Val polymorphism has a detrimental effect on cognition, extending upwards the age range in which such an effect has been detected. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-61
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2007


  • intelligence
  • catechol-O-methyltransferase
  • repeated measures mixed general linear models
  • GENE
  • AGE


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