Skip to main content

03-09-2012 | Mental health | Article

Testosterone levels linked to BD course


Free abstract

medwireNews: Results from a US study suggest that testosterone levels are positively associated with number of manic episodes and suicide attempts in patients with bipolar disorder (BD).

"Our findings are consistent with some previous observations of the association between testosterone levels and parameters of mood and behaviour," comment Leo Sher and colleagues from the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

However, the team found no significant association between testosterone levels and Aggression History Scale scores among BD patients with a history of suicide attempts.

"It has been suggested that the connection between testosterone and aggression is probably only of importance to athletes who supplement their testosterone levels to very high levels," they add.

The findings come from a study of testosterone levels in 16 men and 51 women with BD who had attempted suicide at least once.

As expected, men had significantly higher testosterone levels than women, at 4.5 versus 0.5 ng/ml, as well as a significantly higher number of previous major depressive episodes, at 15.3 versus 9.0.

Men also had a higher mean score on the Medical Lethality Rating Scale (MLRS) than women, at 3.7 versus 2.7, with higher scores indicating a more severe degree of medical damage caused by suicide attempts.

In contrast, women had higher mean scores on the Beck Suicidal Ideation Scale than men, at 12.4 versus 4.6, with higher scores indicating a greater severity of greater suicidal ideation.

After accounting for these gender differences, the team found that testosterone levels were positively correlated with the number of manic episodes and the number of suicide attempts in both men and women.

"This study suggests that testosterone levels may be related to the course of bipolar disorders and suicidal behaviour," conclude Sher et al.

They add: "Further studies of the role of testosterone in the neurobiology of mood disorders and suicidal behavior are merited."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Related topics