Association study of catechol-O-methyltransferase gene polymorphism in Korean male alcoholics

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Catechol-O-methyltransferase, which has a functional genetic polymorphism, plays an important role in dopamine metabolism. The study analyzed the association between the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene polymorphism and alcohol dependence in the Korean population.


Ninety-seven male alcoholics and 94 male age-matched normal controls were enrolled in this study. Polymerase chain reaction-based genotyping was used to verify the presence of the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene polymorphism. The patients were divided into two subtypes (violent group and non-violent group) according to their history of violent behavior.


No difference in the distribution of the catechol-O-methyltransferase genotypes (H/H, H/L, L/L) and alleles (H, L) was observed between the patients and the controls. However, the differences between the violent and non-violent groups were significant in terms of the frequencies of the COMT genotypes (χ2=7.977, df=2, P=0.019) and the alleles (χ2=6.832, df=1, P=0.012). In addition, significant differences in the frequencies of the catechol-O-methyltransferase allele (χ2=4.481, df=1, P=0.040) were observed between the non-violent group and the controls.


This suggests that the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene polymorphism is not associated with the development of alcohol dependence, but may affect the susceptibility to a clinical heterogeneity of alcohol dependence, at least in the Korean population.

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