Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 56
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825307

A functional SNP (V158M) in the COMT gene is associated with aggressive personality traits

I Dietrich 1, I Giegling 1, HJ Möller 1, D Rujescu 1
  • 1Molecular and Clinical Neurobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

Background: Suicidal behavior is often correlated with other-directed aggression, which is partially mediated by catecholaminergic neurotransmission. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an enzyme involved in catecholamine inactivation. In this study we examined the influence of a functional COMT (V158M) polymorphism on suicidal behavior and anger-related traits.

Methods: This polymorphism was examined in 149 German suicide attempters, and 328 German controls. Both groups were administered self report questionnaires for anger-related traits.

Results: There was no overall difference in allele/genotype frequency between patients and controls. However, the low-activity L-allele and genotype frequencies were higher among violent suicide attempters. For anger-related traits, a multivariate effect of the COMT genotype was observed after controlling for age and educational level. LL-carriers expressed their anger more outwardly while HH-carriers expressed it more inwardly and reported more state-anger, as assessed by the self report questionnaire.

Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that the functional polymorphism in the COMT gene may modify the phenotype of suicide attempts and anger-related traits. This, however, being a novel finding, should warrant further investigation.