I was asked how you look up your COMT gene type using 23&ME, so here are some instructions. You can view my post on Cutting COMT Inhibitors to Reduce Pain Sensitivity to see why this might be of interest. You can also find lots of information about the gene on other sites.
Before we move intro the nitty gritty details, I want to mention that what to do with this information is not absolute. There’s a lot of information on the Internet, and of course some of it is questionable, and genes are complex, so I suggest experimenting like a scientist. It was only after testing that I trusted that cutting COMT inhibitors actually did decrease my pain sensitivity.
I’ll now offer two options for looking up your COMT details. These steps were both valid as of June 2019.
Use A Report Generator:
The easiest way is to download your 23&ME full data file and send it through a report generator. An example of this is the free site Genetic Genie which generates a small report on some common and well studied genes you might find of interest. The report will highlight notable gene variants in red, making it easy to know which to research. A nice aspect of using a report generator is you get a lot of data in an easy to read format.
Using a report generator requires you to upload your genetic data to their site to generate the report. If you don’t want to allow your data to be accessed by an external site you can instead look your data up manually, which I’ll explain below.
The first step to using report generators (there are many on the Internet which can lead to weeks or months of exploration and worries and wondering if you are not careful to control yourself) requires downloading your data file to your computer. To do this launch the main 23&ME web site, log into 23&ME, and choose the “Browse Raw Data” option under your account drop-down list on the right. Use the DOWNLOAD link at the top of the page that displays to grab your data file. Note where the file is saved on your computer so you can upload it to the report generator sites.
Now go to a report generator site, like Genetic Genie, and follow the instructions to upload your data and generate the report.
Other interesting genes in this particular report includes the VDR genes which define how well you handle vitamin D. If you have the AA form of VDR Taq it may explain why you are often low on vitamin D. The MAO-A gene is also involved in the breakdown of neurotransmitters, and is of interest in relationship to COMT. The MTHFR genes are also covered, which can be linked to high levels of homocysteine in the blood and low levels of folate and other vitamins. These are fairly well known and understood genes and there is plenty of information available online. It’s all interesting, but remember that a red item is interesting and worth exploring, but don’t panic. Review it and ask your doctor if it’s an issue worth exploring.
Look Up Your COMT Gene Manually:
To look up your main COMT gene manually, launch the main 23&ME web site, log in, and choose the “Browse Raw Data” option under your account name drop-down list on the right.
Once on the Browse Raw Data page you will be able to enter gene ids manually and look up your results. You’ll have to know how to interpret the data, which can take some research.
For COMT you’ll want to look up the main gene, “rs4680”. You can have one of the following results.
- A/A means a slower breakdown of some neurotransmitters.
- G/G means a faster breakdown of neurotransmitters.
- A/G is considered the balanced COMT gene, neither too fast or too slow.
What It Means:
The main COMT gene is rs4680, though there are many other genes involved that can change the impact. If this gene comes up as the AA allele (red on the report) you generally have slower breakdown of some neurotransmitters and are known as a worrier. These neurotransmitters may tend to build up. With this form of the gene you may be more prone to stress and have increased pain sensitivity. If these are issue for you you may wish to test how you feel if you reduce your COMT inhibitors as described in my post listed above.
If you come up as GG (green on the report) you may have fast breakdown of certain neurotransmitters and are known as a warrior. With that form of the gene you may have lower levels of dopamine, which may possibly lead to focus and anger issues, and may have a higher pain threshold. You may consider increasing your COMT inhibiting foods, particularly green tea, to see if you feel you perform better.
It’s hard to make a judgement on the AG allele.
As mentioned, there are many other COMT genes involved. These COMT genes all work together to change how your body actually breaks-down certain neurotransmitters, so again there are not absolutes here due to the complexity. The rs4680 gene was determined to be the strongest understood gene in this respect, and is the main one to look at as a general guide at this time. The reports will show other COMT genes, and you can use those to weigh how heavily you lean toward a slow of fast COMT process.