Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) results in variable clinical trajectories and outcomes. The source of variability remains unclear, but may involve genetic variations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). A SNP in catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) is suggested to influence development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but its role in TBI remains unclear. Here, we utilize the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot (TRACK-TBI Pilot) study to investigate whether the COMT Val158Met polymorphism is associated with PTSD and global functional outcome as measured by the PTSD Checklist – Civilian Version and Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended (GOSE), respectively. Results in 93 predominately Caucasian subjects with mTBI show that the COMT Met158 allele is associated with lower incidence of PTSD (univariate odds ratio (OR) of 0.25, 95% CI [0.09–0.69]) and higher GOSE scores (univariate OR 2.87, 95% CI [1.20–6.86]) 6-months following injury. The COMT Val158Met genotype and PTSD association persists after controlling for race (multivariable OR of 0.29, 95% CI [0.10–0.83]) and pre-existing psychiatric disorders/substance abuse (multivariable OR of 0.32, 95% CI [0.11–0.97]). PTSD emerged as a strong predictor of poorer outcome on GOSE (multivariable OR 0.09, 95% CI [0.03–0.26]), which persists after controlling for age, GCS, and race. When accounting for PTSD in multivariable analysis, the association of COMT genotype and GOSE did not remain significant (multivariable OR 1.73, 95% CI [0.69–4.35]). Whether COMT genotype indirectly influences global functional outcome through PTSD remains to be determined and larger studies in more diverse populations are needed to confirm these findings.

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Journal of Clinical Neuroscience
Department of Public Health

Winkler, E. A., Yue, J., Ferguson, A., Temkin, N., Stein, M.B. (Murray B.), Barber, J., … Manley, G. (2017). COMT Val158Met polymorphism is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and functional outcome following mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 35, 109–116. doi:10.1016/j.jocn.2016.09.017