COMT: Genetic Influence on Heart Disease and Interaction with Aspirin, Vitamin E

COMT (2)Everyone knows that aspirin protects against heart disease, right? Well, it turns out that is only true for some of us, and for others it can actually slightly increase the risk of heart disease.  It all depends on a COMT polymorphism.

Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is the gene that codes for an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, as well as other substances.  There are many studies on the common genetic polymorphisms of the COMT gene, and most of the studies focus on the neurological aspects of the enzyme.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at the effect of a common COMT polymorphism on cardiovascular disease.  The study also looked at the combined effect of the polymorphism along with either aspirin or vitamin E and cardiovascular disease.

The study was done on women only, included 23,000 participants, and analyzed the incidences of cardiovascular disease over a 10 year period.  It looked at the COMT Val158Met polymorphism, rs4680, where Val is the same as the G allele and Met is the same as the A allele. Those with homozygous Val/Val variant (GG) have approximately a 4 times faster rate of dopamine metabolism as those with the Met/Met variant (AA).[ref]

The findings of the cardiovascular disease study show that women with the Val/Val (GG) variant are naturally at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those with the Met/Met (AA) allele.

The study also showed that taking aspirin (100mg every other day) or Vitamin E (600 IU alpha-tocopherol every other day) significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease for those with the Met/Met (AA) allele.  The opposite was true for women with the Val/Val (GG); they had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease with aspirin supplementation and no protection from Vitamin E.


Check your 23andMe results for rs4680:

  • GG:  naturally at a lower risk of heart disease; aspirin supplementation increased risk for heart disease
  • AA: generally higher risk for heart disease; both aspirin and vitamin E decreased risk for heart disease


More to Read:

Links to Supplements:

For those of you with COMT rs4680 AA who want to try supplementing with either aspirin (talk to your doctor if you are at high risk for bleeding) or vitamin E:

  • Aspirin is inexpensive and can be found at almost any grocery store or drug store.  I urge you to read the labels, though, and see what kind of extra ingredients are in the aspirin. Here is one that has only starch added to it, and I’ve also found generic, store brand aspirins with only starch as well.
  • While the study used only alpha-tocopherol as the Vitamin E supplement, many recommend using a natural, mixed tocopherol if supplementing with Vitamin E.


Updated Feb. 2017

3 Replies to “COMT: Genetic Influence on Heart Disease and Interaction with Aspirin, Vitamin E”

  1. I am COMT rs4680 AA. I am interested in supplementing with aspirin. Is there any reason why I couldn’t take 50mg daily as opposed to 100 every other day?

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