The Val158Met polymorphism of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene has been associated with aspects of schizophrenia that are possibly related to the disorder's pathogenesis. The present study investigated the Val158Met polymorphism in relation to anhedonia-a construct central to negative schizotypy. Anhedonia and other schizotypal characteristics were assessed in relatives of patients with schizophrenia, relatives of patients with bipolar disorder, and nonpsychiatric controls using the Chapman schizotypy scales and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire. Compared with controls, relatives of individuals with schizophrenia had elevated scores on Chapman scales for social anhedonia and physical anhedonia, while relatives of patients with bipolar disorder exhibited only increased scores on the Social Anhedonia Scale. As a group, relatives of patients with schizophrenia who were homozygous for the val allele of the COMT polymorphism showed the highest elevations in self-reported social and physical anhedonia. Associations with the COMT polymorphism were absent in relatives of patients with bipolar disorder and control participants. Findings suggest that anhedonia is manifest in individuals who carry genetic liability for schizophrenia and is associated with the Val158Met polymorphism of the COMT gene.
- catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)