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COMT as a Drug Target for Cognitive Functions and Dysfunctions

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Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a promising target for modulation of cognitive functions and dysfunctions. COMT dominates the regulation of dopamine metabolism in the prefrontal cortex. Thus, COMT effects are particularly evident in prefrontal cortex-dependent cognitive functions including executive control, working memory, attentional control and long-term memory. This has been determined by both genetic and pharmacological studies that we will highlight in the present review. In particular, we will discuss how common functional variants of the COMT gene may predict individual variation in selective cognitive abilities and vulnerability to cognitive deficits that characterize several neuropsychiatric disorders. Moreover, COMT genetic variants represent one source of individual differences in the cognitive responses to medications such as those used in psychiatric illnesses. COMT genetic testing may then predict some cognitive dysfunctions often seen in certain psychiatric illnesses even from presymptomatic stages and the efficacy/dosage of drugs used to treat them. The consideration of COMT-dependent differences may be important for the development of more efficient personalized healthcare.
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Keywords: COMT; Catechol O Methyl Transferase; Executive function; MB-COMT; attention; development; pharmacological treatment; prefrontal cortex; psychiatric disorders; single nucleotide polymorphism; val/Met; working memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Via Morego 30, 16163 Genova, Italy.

Publication date: 01 May 2012

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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