Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) genotype biases neural correlates of empathy and perceived personal distress in schizophrenia
Comprehensive Psychiatry, 08/17/2012
Poletti S et al. – This is the first study of the effect of rs4680 on interpersonal distress and neural correlates of empathy in schizophrenia. The authors found a decrease in neural responses in areas that ensure a cognitive control of emotion that is paralleled by perceived distress in interpersonal situation; this functional pattern seems to be influenced by rs4680 catechol–O–methyltransferase (COMT) polymorphism.Methods
- Twenty-eight schizophrenic patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging performing an empathy task.
- Perceived empathy has been evaluated with the Interpersonal Reactivity Index.
- An effect of COMT on perceived distress subscale has been shown, with methionine (Met)/Met subjects reporting lower rates of stress compared with Val/Val.
- Moreover, imaging results showed an effect of genotype on empathy processing in the anterior cingulate with Val/Val subjects showing the lowest activation.