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No evidence for a role of the catechol-O-methyltransferase pain sensitivity haplotypes in chronic widespread pain
  1. Barbara I Nicholl1,
  2. Kate L Holliday1,*,
  3. Gary J Macfarlane2,
  4. Wendy Thomson1,
  5. Kelly A Davies1,
  6. Terence W O'Neill1,
  7. Gyorgy Bartfai3,
  8. Steven Boonen4,5,
  9. Felipe Casanueva6,
  10. Joseph D Finn1,
  11. Gianni Forti7,
  12. Aleksander Giwercman8,
  13. Ilpo T Huhtaniemi9,
  14. Krzysztof Kula10,
  15. Margus Punab11,
  16. Alan J Silman1,
  17. Dirk Vanderschueren12,
  18. Frederick C W Wu13,
  19. John McBeth1,
  20. European Male Ageing Study Group
  1. 1Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Aberdeen Pain Research Collaboration (Epidemiology Group), School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  3. 3Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Andrology, Albert Szent-Gyorgy Medical University, Szeged, Hungary
  4. 4Leuven University Division of Geriatric Medicine, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  5. 5Leuven University Center for Metabolic Bone Diseases, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  6. 6Department of Medicine, Santiago de Compostela University, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago (CHUS), Instituto Salud Carlos III, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  7. 7Andrology Unit, Department of Clinical Physiopathology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  8. 8Scanian Andrology Centre, Department of Urology, Malmö University Hospital, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden
  9. 9Department of Reproductive Biology, Imperial College London, London, UK
  10. 10Department of Andrology and Reproductive Endocrinology, Medical University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland
  11. 11Andrology Unit, United Laboratories of Tartu University Clinics, Tartu, Estonia
  12. 12Division of Endocrinology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  13. 13Department of Endocrinology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kate Holliday, Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester, Stopford Building, Manchester M13 9PT, UK; kate.holliday{at}


Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the association between the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) ‘pain sensitivity’ haplotypes and chronic widespread pain (CWP) in two distinct cohorts.

Methods Cases of CWP and controls free of pain were selected from two population-based studies: the Epidemiology of Functional Disorders study (EPIFUND) (UK) and the European Male Ageing Study (European). The number of cases and controls were 164 and 172, and 204 and 935, respectively. Identical American College of Rheumatology criteria were used in both studies to ascertain CWP status. The EPIFUND study had three time points and cases were classified as subjects with CWP at two or three time points and controls as those free of pain at all three time points. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP): rs6269, rs4633, rs4818 and rs4680 (V158M) were genotyped using Sequenom technology. Allele and genotype frequencies were compared and haplotype analysis was conducted using PLINK software.

Results No differences in allele or genotype frequencies for any of the four SNP were observed between cases and controls for either cohort. Haplotype analysis also showed no difference in the frequency of haplotypes between cases and controls.

Conclusions There was no evidence of association between the COMT ‘pain sensitivity’ haplotypes and CWP in two population-based cohorts.

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  • The first two authors contributed equally to this work;

  • * nee Limer.

  • Members of the EMAS Group Gianni Forti, Luisa Petrone, Antonio Cilotti (Florence); Dirk Vanderschueren, Steven Boonen, Herman Borghs (Leuven); Krzysztof Kula, Jolanta Slowikowska-Hilczer, Renata Walczak-Jedrzejowska (Lodz); Ilpo Huhtaniemi (London); Aleksander Giwercman (Malmö); Frederick Wu, Alan Silman, Terence O'Neill, Joseph Finn, Philip Steer, Abdelouahid Tajar, David Lee, Stephen Pye (Manchester); Felipe Casanueva, Marta Ocampo, Mary Lage (Santiago); György Bartfai, Imre Földesi, Imre Fejes (Szeged); Margus Punab, Paul Korrovitz (Tartu); and Min Jiang (Turku). For additional information regarding EMAS, contact Frederick Wu, MD, Department of Endocrinology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK.

  • Funding This work was supported by Arthritis Research UK, Chesterfield, UK, grant no 17552. The European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) is funded by the Commission of the European Communities Fifth Framework Programme ‘Quality of life and management of living resources’ grant QLK6-CT-2001-00258 and is supported by funding from Arthritis Research UK.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval EMAS ethical approval for the study was obtained in each of the centres in accordance with local practice and requirements. For EPIFUND ethical approval was obtained from Manchester LREC.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.