Lack of association between the functional variant of the catechol-o- methyltransferase (COMT) gene and early-onset alcoholism associated with severe antisocial behavior

Tero Hallikainen, Herbert Lachman, Takuya Saito, Jan Volavka, Jussi Kauhanen, Jukka T. Salonen, Olli Pekka Ryynänen, Markku Koulu, Matti K. Karvonen, Tiina Pohjalainen, Erkka Syvälahti, Jarmo Hietala, Jari Tiihonen

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Addictive drugs, including ethanol, increase the brain's dopaminergic transmission, and catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme has a crucial role in dopamine inactivation. A common functional polymorphism in the COMT gene results in a three- to fourfold variation in enzyme activity. In a previous study, we found an association between type 1 (with late-onset but without prominent antisocial behavior) alcoholism and the low activity allele of the COMT gene. In this work we analyzed whether the COMT polymorphism has any effect on the development of type 2 (with early-onset and habitual impulsive violent behavior) alcoholism. The COMT genotype was determined in 62 impulsive violent recidivist offenders with early-onset (type 2) alcoholism, 123 late-onset nonviolent (type 1) alcoholics, and 267 race and gender-matched controls. The allele and genotype frequencies of these groups were compared with each other and also with previously published data from 3,140 Finnish blood donors. The type 2 alcoholics did not differ from either the blood donors or the controls. The low activity (L) allele frequency was higher among type 1 alcoholics (χ2 = 4.98, P = 0.026) when compared with type 2 cases. The odds ratio for type 1 alcoholism as compared with type 2 alcoholism for those subjects with the LL genotype versus the HH genotype was 3.0 (95% confidence interval 1.1-8.4, P = 0.017). The results suggest that COMT genotype has no major role in the development of early-onset alcoholism with severe antisocial behavior. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-352
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 12 2000



  • Alcoholism
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • COMT
  • Catechol-o- methyltransferase
  • Dopamine
  • Polymorphism
  • Substance-abuse disorders
  • Violent behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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