Suicidal behavior in patients with schizophrenia is related to COMT polymorphism

K. A. Nolan, J. Volavka, P. Czobor, A. Cseh, H. Lachman, T. Saito, J. Tiihonen, A. Putkonen, T. Hallikainen, I. Kotilainen, P. Räsänen, M. Isohanni, M. R. Järvelin, M. K. Karvonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


A common functional polymorphism that results in a three- to four-fold difference in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme activity has been related to psychiatric disorders such as ultra-ultra rapid cycling bipolar disorder, drug abuse and alcoholism (Lachman et al., 1996a; Karayiorgou et al., 1997; Vandenbergh et al., 1997; Papolos et al., 1998; Tiihonen et al., 1999). Several studies have also reported associations between the allele encoding the low enzyme activity COMT variant (L allele) and other-directed aggression (Strous et al., 1997; Lachman et al., 1998; Kotler et al., 1999) in schizophrenic and schizoaffective patients. The current study investigated whether the COMT L allele is also associated with suicide attempts in schizophrenic and schizoaffective patients. COMT genotypes were determined and history of suicide attempts was retrospectively investigated in a Finnish sample (n = 94) and a US sample (n = 54). Significant associations were observed between COMT genotype and suicide; specifically, history of violent suicide attempts. The COMT L allele was more frequent in subjects who had attempted suicide by violent means. These associations were significant in males but not females. These findings support a common neurobiological substrate for self- and other-directed aggression, and suggest that catecholaminergic alterations may contribute to these behaviors in schizophrenic and schizoaffective patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatric Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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