Modulation of brain structure by catechol-O-methyltransferase Val(158) Met polymorphism in chronic cannabis users

Journal article


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Publication Details

Author list: Soriano-Mas C
Publisher: Wiley: 12 months
Publication year: 2014
Journal: Addiction Biology (1355-6215)
Volume number: 19
Issue number: 4
Start page: 722
End page: 732
Number of pages: 11
ISSN: 1355-6215
eISSN: 1369-1600
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Neuroimaging studies have shown that chronic consumption of cannabis may
result in alterations in brain morphology. Recent work focusing on the
relationship between brain structure and the
catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene polymorphism suggests that
functional COMT variants may affect brain volume in healthy individuals
and in schizophrenia patients. We measured the influence of COMT
genotype on the volume of four key regions: the prefrontal cortex,
neostriatum (caudate-putamen), anterior cingulate cortex and
hippocampus-amygdala complex, in chronic early-onset cannabis users and
healthy control subjects. We selected 29 chronic cannabis users who
began using cannabis before 16 years of age and matched them to 28
healthy volunteers in terms of age, educational level and IQ.
Participants were male, Caucasians aged between 18 and 30 years. All
were assessed by a structured psychiatric interview (PRISM) to exclude
any lifetime Axis-I disorder according to Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual for Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition. COMT genotyping was
performed and structural magnetic resonance imaging data was analyzed by
voxel-based morphometry. The results showed that the COMT polymorphism
influenced the volume of the bilateral ventral caudate nucleus in both
groups, but in an opposite direction: more copies of val allele led to
lesser volume in chronic cannabis users and more volume in controls. The
opposite pattern was found in left amygdala. There were no effects of
COMT genotype on volumes of the whole brain or the other selected
regions. Our findings support recent reports of neuroanatomical changes
associated with cannabis use and, for the first time, reveal that these
changes may be influenced by the COMT genotype.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45