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Open Access Research article

Depression and anxiety in relation to catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met genotype in the general population: The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT)

Petter M Bækken1, Frank Skorpen2, Eystein Stordal16, John-Anker Zwart1345 and Knut Hagen13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

2 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children's and Women's Health, Faculty of medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

3 Norwegian National Headache Centre, Section of Neurology, St. Olavs' Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

4 National Centre for Spinal Disorders, St. Olavs' Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

5 Department of Neurology, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

6 Department of psychiatry, Hospital Namsos, Namsos, Norway

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BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:48  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-48

Published: 25 June 2008

Abstract

Background

The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene contains a functional polymorphism, Val158Met, which has been linked to anxiety and depression, but previous results are not conclusive. The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between the Val158Met COMT gene polymorphism and anxiety and depression measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) in the general adult population.

Methods

In the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT) the association between the Val158Met polymorphism and anxiety and depression was evaluated in a random sample of 5531 individuals. Two different cut off scores (≥ 8 and ≥ 11) were used to identify cases with anxiety (HADS-A) and depression (HADS-D), whereas controls had HADS-A <8 and HADS-D <8.

Results

The COMT genotype distribution was similar between controls and individuals in the groups with anxiety and depression using cut-off scores of ≥ 8. When utilizing the alternative cut-off score HADS-D ≥ 11, Met/Met genotype and Met allele were less common among men with depression compared to the controls (genotype: p = 0.017, allele: p = 0.006). In the multivariate analysis, adjusting for age and heart disease, depression (HADS-D ≥ 11) was less likely among men with the Met/Met genotype than among men with the Val/Val genotype (OR = 0.37, 95% CI = 0.18–0.76).

Conclusion

In this population-based study, no clear association between the Val158Met polymorphism and depression and anxiety was revealed. The Met/Met genotype was less likely among men with depression defined as HADS-D ≥ 11, but this may be an incidental finding.