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Recent observations demonstrate a significant ameliorative effect of add-on transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) in schizophrenia. Of the many SNPs, NRG1 rs35753505 and catechol-o-methyl transferase (COMT) rs4680 polymorphisms have shown to have a strong association with neuroplasticity effect in schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia patients (n=32) with treatment resistant auditory hallucinations were administered with an add-on tDCS. The COMT (rs4680) and NRG1 (rs35753505) genotypes were determined. The COMT genotypes were categorised into Val group (GG; n=15) and Met group (GG/AG; n=17) and NRG1 genotypes were categorised into AA group (n=12) and AG/GG group (n=20).
The reduction in auditory hallucination sub-scale score was significantly affected by COMT-GG genotype [Time×COMT interaction: F(1,28)=10.55, p=0.003, ɳ2=0.27]. Further, COMT-GG effect was epistatically influenced by the co-occurrence of NRG1-AA genotype [Time×COMT×NRG1 interaction: F(1,28)=8.09, p=0.008, ɳ2=0.22]. Irrespective of genotype, females showed better tDCS response than males [Time×Sex interaction: F(1,21)=4.67, p=0.04, ɳ2=0.18].
COMT-GG and NRG1-AA genotypes aid the tDCS-induced improvement in AVHs in schizophrenia patients. Our preliminary observations need replication and further systematic research to understand the neuroplastic gene determinants that modulate the effect of tDCS.
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