The impact of COMT polymorphisms on cognition in Bipolar Disorder: A review

A. Pigoni, M. Lazzaretti, G. M. Mandolini, G. Delvecchio, A. C. Altamura, J. C. Soares, P. Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cognitive deficits represent a core feature of Bipolar Disorder. The dopamine system is considered fundamental for cognitive functions relying on prefrontal cortex, such as attention and executive functions. A genetic regulation of prefrontal dopamine has been described and the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) has been extensively studied in relation to numerous psychiatric phenotypes, especially because of the involvement of its polymorphisms in the regulation of cognitive functions. Specifically, the Val158Met polymorphism greatly alters COMT function and cognitive performance in both psychiatric disorders and healthy controls. However, only few studies assessed the association between COMT polymorphisms and cognitive functions in bipolar disorder (BD) subjects and this association might help in the comprehension of cognitive alterations in BD. Methods: In this context, the present review summarizes results from genetic studies that investigated COMT genetic modulation on cognitive performance in patients affected by BD. Results: Overall the results confirmed that (a) COMT Val158Met polymorphism is associated with altered cognitive functions in BD patients, especially in the domains of memory, executive functions and emotion detection; and (b) COMT genotype may interact with both mood episodes and pharmacologic treatments in determining the cognitive profile of these subjects. Limitations: Few genetic studies exploring COMT genetic effect on cognition in BD. Conclusions: These findings seem to indicate a role of COMT polymorphisms in regulating cognitive functioning in patients with BD. The genetically determined dopaminergic tone may be further affected by mood episodes and pharmacological treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-551
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Cognition
  • COMT
  • Genes
  • SNPs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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