Catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met association with parahippocampal physiology during memory encoding in schizophrenia

A. Di Giorgio, G. Caforio, G. Blasi, P. Taurisano, L. Fazio, R. Romano, G. Ursini, B. Gelao, L. Lo Bianco, A. Papazacharias, L. Sinibaldi, T. Popolizio, A. Bellomo, A. Bertolino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met has been associated with activity of the mesial temporal lobe during episodic memory and it may weakly increase risk for schizophrenia. However, how this variant affects parahippocampal and hippocampal physiology when dopamine transmission is perturbed is unclear. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of the COMT Val158Met genotype on parahippocampal and hippocampal physiology during encoding of recognition memory in patients with schizophrenia and in healthy subjects.Method Using blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we studied 28 patients with schizophrenia and 33 healthy subjects matched for a series of sociodemographic and genetic variables while they performed a recognition memory task.Results We found that healthy subjects had greater parahippocampal and hippocampal activity during memory encoding compared to patients with schizophrenia. We also found different activity of the parahippocampal region between healthy subjects and patients with schizophrenia as a function of the COMT genotype, in that the predicted COMT Met allele dose effect had an opposite direction in controls and patients.Conclusions Our results demonstrate a COMT Val158Met genotype by diagnosis interaction in parahippocampal activity during memory encoding and may suggest that modulation of dopamine signaling interacts with other disease-related processes in determining the phenotype of parahippocampal physiology in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1721-1731
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • COMT
  • fMRI
  • memory encoding
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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