The relationship between the Val158Met catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) polymorphism and irritable bowel syndrome
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Engineering sciences. Technology
, 5 p.
University of Antwerp
Background: The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme has a key function in the degradation of catecholamines and a functional polymorphism is val158met. The val/val genotype results in a three to fourfold higher enzymatic activity compared with the met/met genotype, with the val/met genotype exhibiting intermediate activity. Since pain syndromes as well as anxiety and depression are associated to low and high COMT activity respectively and these conditions are all associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) we wanted for the first time to explore the relationship between the polymorphism and IBS. Methodology/Principal Findings: 867 subjects (445 women) representative of the general population and 70 consecutively sampled patients with IBS (61 women) were genotyped for the val158met polymorphism and the IBS patients filled out the Hospital-Anxiety-and-Depression-Scale (HADS) questionnaire, and an IBS symptom diary. Results: There was a significantly higher occurrence of the val/val genotype in patients compared with controls (30% vs 20%; Chi(2) (1) 3.98; p = 0.046) and a trend toward a lower occurrence of the val/met genotype in IBS patients compared with controls (39% vs 49%; Chi(2) (1) 2.89; p = 0.089). Within the IBS patients the val/val carriers exhibited significantly increased bowel frequency (2.6 vs 1.8 stools per day; Chi(2) (1) 5.3; p = 0.03) and a smaller proportion of stools with incomplete defecation (41% vs 68%; Chi(2) (1) 4.3; p = 0.04) compared with the rest (val/met+ met/met carriers). The val/val carriers also showed a trend for a smaller proportion of hard stools (0% vs 15%; Chi(2) (1) 3.2; p = 0.08) and a higher frequency of postprandial defecation (26% vs 21%; Chi(2) (1) 3.0; p = 0.08). Conclusions/Significance: In this study we found an association between the val/val genotype of the val158met COMT gene and IBS as well as to specific IBS related bowel pattern in IBS patients.