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17-01-2012 | Psychology | Article

Lipid levels ‘not linked to suicide risk in bipolar disorder patients’


Free abstract

MedWire News: Italian researchers have found no evidence to suggest an association between lipid levels and suicide attempts in patients with bipolar disorder (BD).

"Patients with BD have an increased risk of suicide compared with patients with other Axis I disorders," observe Giuseppe Maina and colleagues from the University of Turin.

"There is extensive literature aiming at identifying possible markers of suicidality, especially biological ones," they add. "Recently, the role of serum lipids as biological markers of suicidality has been explored, focusing in particular on cholesterol levels, yet results are mixed and conflicting."

To investigate further, the researchers studied 220 patients, aged 18 years or older (mean age 49.0 years), with BD type I, II, or not otherwise specified who received treatment between 2006 and 2011.

All of the participants were assessed for a history of suicidal behaviour, with suicide attempts defined as "self-destructive behavior with the intention of ending one's life, independently of the resulting damage."

Blood samples were collected from the participants and assessed for total cholesterol, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. The participants were also evaluated for presence of the metabolic syndrome using National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III modified criteria.

In total, 71 patients had a history of suicide attempts, of whom 26 had a history of violent attempts, such as jumping from heights, hanging, and knife wounds, and 45 had a history of nonviolent attempts, such as drug overdose.

The researchers found that there were no significant differences between suicide attempters and nonattempters in terms of total cholesterol levels (192.5 vs 190.1 mg/dL), triglyceride levels (138.6 vs 126.3 mg/dL), or HDL cholesterol levels (52.9 vs 51.8 mg/dL).

There was also no significant difference between attempters and nonattempters in terms of prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, at 20.9% versus 25.9%.

In addition, there were no significant differences in lipid levels or metabolic syndrome prevalence rates between violent and nonviolent suicide attempters.

Maina and team conclude in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry: "Our results do not support the hypothesis of a strong association between serum lipid levels and suicide in patients with bipolar disorder."

By Mark Cowen

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