MTHFR: Genetic variants, expression analysis and COMT interaction in major depressive disorder

Maria Gabriela Nielsen, Chiara Congiu, Marco Bortolomasi, Cristian Bonvicini, Stefano Bignotti, Maria Abate, Elena Milanesi, Andreas Conca, Nadia Cattane, Elisabetta Tessari, Massimo Gennarelli, Alessandra Minelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract Background Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) genetic variations have been widely studied in major depressive disorder (MDD) and antidepressants outcome. An interaction with catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) has also been proved affecting depression. The aim of this study was to clarify the role of the most commonly studied single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of MTHFR gene in MDD and in treatment response mechanisms, along with the impact of the interaction with COMT. Methods A total of 613 MDD patients, of whom 389 were classified as having treatment resistant depression (TRD), and 463 controls were enrolled. The A1298C, C677T and COMT Val158Met were genotyped. Genetic data were integrated with a transcriptional level analysis in peripheral blood cells (PBCs) and fibroblasts. Results The A1298C CC homozygotes were more frequent in MDD patients compared to controls in women, increasing twice the genetic risk to develop depression. Moreover this genotype resulted in epistasis with COMT Met carriers in association with MDD. No significant effects were obtained concerning response to treatment. Transcriptional analyses highlighted a strong correlation between the mRNA levels of MTHFR in fibroblasts and COMT genotypes whereas no significant association with MDD was found. PBCs results revealed relevant influences of environmental factors. Limitation We did not measure folate and homocisteine levels. Conclusion This study showed the involvement of A1298C, Val158Met and their interaction in MDD. The transcriptional analyses supported the participation of COMT in the folate pathway, which partakes in the complex network of gene×gene and gene×environment interactions of MDD etiopathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7439
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Catechol-O-methyltransferase
  • Fibroblasts
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase
  • Transcriptional analyses
  • Treatment resistant depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine(all)


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