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Catechol-O-Methyltransferase and Alzheimer's Disease: A Review of Biological and Genetic Findings

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Abstract:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia worldwide and is associated with a marked individual, familial and social burden. Catechol-O-mehyltransferase (COMT) is surfacing with a prominent role in AD pathophysiology by affecting the metabolism of catecholamine neurotransmitters and estrogen. COMT gene regulates dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex which are involved in working memory and executive functioning. Impaired executive functioning is reported in a subgroup of AD patients and is associated with a more severe disorder, a more rapid disease progression and a shorter survival. The COMT rs4680 gene polymorphism has been investigated as a susceptibility factor for AD. No statistically significant results were found in meta-analysis but one study reported that the rs4680 Val allele was associated with AD-related psychosis. The COMT rs4680 polymorphism was also found to modulate declarative episodic memory in normal people and schizophrenic subjects. COMT inhibitors, that are adjunctive drugs in Parkinson's disease treatment, lower homocysteine levels and improve executive memory processes in normal subjects. A preliminary study, which needs replication, demonstrates that COMT inhibitors block beta-amyloid fibrils in vitro. Taken together, these findings suggest that research should focus on the role of COMT in AD pathogenesis and on the feasibility of targeting COMT activity in AD treatment.

Keywords: ADAS-Cog scale; Alzheimer; BPSD; COMT Gene; COMT Inhibitor; Catechol-O-mehyltransferase; Catechol-O-mehyltransferase gene; Catechol-O-mehyltransferase inhibitor; Prefrontal cortex; cholinestrase inhibitors; dementia; depression

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/187152712800672472

Affiliations: Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bologna, Viale Carlo Pepoli 5, 40123 Bologna, Italy.

Publication date: May 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • 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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