Catechol-O-Methyl Transferase Modulates Cognition in Late Life: Evidence and Implications for Cognitive Enhancement
Abstract:Aging is associated with deficits in several cognitive domains as well as a decline in brain dopamine activity. Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT), an enzyme involved in the degradation of dopamine, is a critical determinant of the availability of this neurotransmitter in the prefrontal cortex. A functional single nucleotide polymorphism in the COMT gene, Val158Met, modulates the activity of this enzyme and affects cognition and the brain regions underlying this function. The effects of COMT Val158Met polymorphism are magnified in the aging brain. Here, we review the evidence supporting a role of COMT genetic variation in cognitive as well as structural and functional brain changes associated with senescence. We will address the potential modulatory role of genetic and non-genetic factors on the neural and cognitive effects of COMT Val158Met in late life. Furthermore, we will discuss the viability of a COMT-targeted treatment for improving cognitive efficiency in aging.
Keywords: ACE Inhibitors; BDNF-Met; COMT; COMT Inhibitors; Catechol-O-methyl transferase; Dopamine transporter; Working memory; aging; catechol-O-methyl transferase inhibitors; cognition; dopamine; functional magnetic resonance imaging; val158Met
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Brain Center for Motor and Social Cognition, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia@UniPR, Via Universita’ 12, Parma, Italy.
Publication date: 2012-05-01
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