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COMT Val158Met Polymorphism and Symptom Improvement Following a Cognitively Focused Intervention for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Han, Claire J.; Kohen, Ruth; Jun, Sangeun; Jarrett, Monica E.; Cain, Kevin C.; Burr, Robert; Heitkemper, Margaret M.

doi: 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000199
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Background: Our nurse-delivered comprehensive self-management (CSM) program, a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention, is effective in reducing gastrointestinal and psychological distress symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Findings from non-IBS studies indicate that the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism may moderate the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy. It is unknown whether this COMT polymorphism is associated with symptom improvements in patients with IBS.

Objective: We tested whether this COMT Val158Met polymorphism influences the efficacy of our 2-month CSM intervention.

Methods: We analyzed data from two published randomized controlled trials of CSM. The combined European American sample included 149 women and 23 men with IBS (CSM, n = 111; usual care [UC], n = 61). The primary outcomes were daily reports of abdominal pain, depression, anxiety, and feeling stressed measured 3 and 6 months after randomization. Secondary outcomes were additional daily symptoms, retrospective psychological distress, IBS quality of life, and cognitive beliefs about IBS. The interaction between COMT Val158Met polymorphism and treatment group (CSM vs. UC) in a generalized estimating equation model tested the main objective.

Results: At 3 months, participants with at least one Val allele benefited more from CSM than did those with the Met/Met genotype (p = .01 for anxiety and feeling stressed, and p < .16 for abdominal pain and depression). The moderating effect of genotype was weaker at 6 months.

Discussion: Persons with at least one Val allele may benefit more from CSM than those homozygous for the Met allele. Future studies with larger and more racially diverse samples are needed to confirm these findings.

RCT Registration: Parent studies were registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00167635 and NCT00907790).

Claire J. Han, PhD, RN, is Research Assistant, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle.

Ruth Kohen, MD, is Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, and Psychiatrist, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington.

Sangeun Jun, PhD, RN, is Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, Keimyung University, Daegu, South Korea.

Monica E. Jarrett, PhD, RN, is Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle.

Kevin C. Cain, PhD, is Research Scientist, Department of Biostatistics and Office of Nursing Research, University of Washington, Seattle.

Robert Burr, MSEE, PhD, is Research Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Office of Nursing Research, University of Washington, Seattle.

Margaret M. Heitkemper, PhD, RN, FAAN, is Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle.

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Accepted for publication August 19, 2016.

The authors acknowledge that this was not an industry-supported study. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article (secondary data analysis). Parent studies were supported by National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health, USA (Grants NR004142 and P30 NR04001).

Editorial Note: Dr. Kathleen Hickey was Action Editor for this paper.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Corresponding author: Margaret M. Heitkemper, PhD, RN, FAAN, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, Box 357266, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 (e-mail: heit@u.washington.edu).

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