Primary Outcome Measures:
- Genetic differences in working memory testing or fMRI activation [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
Secondary Outcome Measures:
- Panss, Ham-A, POMS, Blood draws for drug levels and liver enzymes [ Designated as safety issue: Yes ]
Psychopharmacological modulation of the catecholaminergic system can enhance some aspects of cognitive function. For example, COMT inhibitors can slightly improve working memory/executive function. Differences in the response between individuals might be related to a number of factors, including variations in the genes. The recent finding that a polymorphism in the catechol-o-methyl-transferase (COMT) gene, which produces a 4 fold change in enzyme activity, accounts for 4 percent of the variance in performance of working memory tasks in humans suggest that COMT genotype may predict response to COMT inhibitors. In the present proof of concept investigation our goal is to examine, in normal controls and patients with schizophrenia, the effect of a centrally acting (tolcapone) and of a peripherally acting (entacapone) COMT inhibitor on cognitive function. We predict that both normal controls and patients with schizophrenia with the val/val genotype will have a significant, though transient, improvement in working memory in subjects treated with tolcapone but not in those treated with entacapone. Furthermore, in conjunction with other NIMH imaging protocols, we would like to examine the neurophysiological correlates related to working memory. We predict, in tolcapone treated subjects, improved measures in prefrontal 'efficiency' in subjects and patients specifically with the val/val genotype. The present protocol will provide new insights on the importance of this genetic polymorphism in the regulation of aminergic-controlled cognitive function in normal individuals. Furthermore, this protocol will test whether COMT inhibitors offer a new treatment-based on genotype - for cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. No IND is required for the present study.