Fetal Val108 158Met catechol O methyltransferase COMT polymorphism and placental COMT activity are associated with the development of preeclampsia

Fetal Met-Met genotype of Val158Met determines catechol-O-metyltransferase placental expression and activity in vitro and increases preeclampsia risk. However, decreased levels of 2-methoxyestradiol present in preeclampsia do not depend exclusively on this polymorphism.


Miriam Pertegal, M.D., M.P.H., Francisco J. Fenoy, M.D., Ph.D., Moises Hernandez, M.Sc., Ph.D., Jaime Mendiola, Ph.D., M.P.H., Juan L. Delgado, M.D., Ph.D., Barbara Bonacasa, Ph.D., Andr├ęs Corno, Ph.D., Bernardo Lopez, Ph.D., Vicente Bosch, M.D., Ph.D., Isabel Hernandez, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 105, Issue 1, Pages 134-143



To evaluate the association between fetal and maternal catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met and methyl tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T functional polymorphisms and preeclampsia, examining its influence on placental COMT and in maternal 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME) plasma levels.


Prospective case-control study.


University hospital.


A total of 53 preeclamptic and 72 normal pregnant women.


Maternal and cord blood samples and placental tissue samples were obtained.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Maternal and fetal COMT and MTHFR polymorphisms were genotyped. Maternal plasma 2-ME and homocysteine levels, and expression and activity of placental COMT were measured.


The odds ratio for the risk of preeclampsia for fetal COMT Met/Met was 3.22, and it increased to 8.65 when associated with fetal MTHFR TT. Placental COMT activity and expression were influenced by genotype, but COMT activity in preeclamptic placentas did not differ from control pregnancies. There was no association between any genotypes and maternal 2-ME. Homocysteine levels were higher in women with preeclampsia than in normal pregnancies, and were inversely correlated with 2-ME plasma levels, indicating that its altered metabolism may lower COMT activity in vivo.


Fetal Met-Met COMT genotype reduces COMT placental expression and activity in vitro and increases preeclampsia, risk but it does not explain the difference in maternal 2-ME levels between preeclamptic and normal pregnancies. However, the preeclamptic patients had elevated homocysteine levels that correlated inversely with 2-ME, indicating that an altered methionine-homocysteine metabolism may contribute to reduce COMT activity in vivo and explain the decreased levels of 2-ME in preeclamptic women.

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