The relationship between a common catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) polymorphism val(158) met and fibromyalgia. – Source: Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, Sep-Oct 2009

[Note: This gene variant (polymorphism) has been associated with predisposition to FM. The present study suggests it is a factor differentiating family members predisposed to ‘clinical FM’ from ‘unaffected’ ones.]

Objectives: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) is an idiopathic chronic pain syndrome characterised by widespread nonarticular musculoskeletal pain, generalised tender points, in the absence of inflammatory or structural musculoskeletal abnormalities, accompanied by a constellation of symptoms that include fatigue and disturbances of sleep and mood. Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is the major catecholamine-clearing pathway and involved in the mediation of pain perception in humans, and the hypothesized role of pain perception in FM. The association between Val/Met polymorphism at the COMT gene was evaluated in FM disorder.

Methods: 209 FM female patients were compared with 152 of their non-affected relatives. DNA was obtained from all family members and extracted. We used the logistic based variant of the transmission disequilibrium test to assess association (and linkage) without confounding effect of population stratification.

Results: We observed an association between FM and the COMT val(158) met polymorphism in a dose response effect of the COMT genotype and the number of pressure points reported. We also observed that non-affected relatives of FM patients had a reduced percentage of the COMT met allele.

Our results are consistent with carriers of the COMT met/met genotype showing increased sensitivity to pain as one mechanism for the role of this gene in conferring risk for FM.

We suggest that the reduced frequency of the met allele in the non-affected relatives acts as a ‘protective’ allele in this group and prevents the development of clinical FM.

Source: Clinical and Experimental rheumatology, Sep-Oct 2009 (5 Suppl 56):S51-6. PMID: 20074440, by  Cohen H, Neumann L, Glazer Y, Ebstein RP, Buskila D. Ministry of Health Mental Health Center, Anxiety and Stress Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. [Email:]

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