April 11, 2023

Prechter Program Researchers Investigate Inflammation and Bipolar Disorder

Prechter Program researchers investigated the relationship between inflammation and bipolar disorder.

The search for the cause of bipolar disorder have yielded few, if any, definitive basis. Despite the higher all-cause mortality and early deaths, there has been no unified cause of the disorder. Inflammation has been suggested to drive the progression and severity of depression and manic mood episodes. In a new paper published by the researchers in the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program, several biological markers of inflammation were measured and compared to the self-report mood measure surveys taken by our member-participants. Five inflammation markers, cytokines, were measured independently, and a novel composite score was created and used to study their differences in healthy controls and those with bipolar disorder.

Initially, it was found in this investigation that those with bipolar disorder have elevated inflammation markers compared to healthy control, both individually and the composite score; however, these elevated markers were not associated with the self-reported survey measures of depression and mania. There is a known critical relationship between body mass index (BMI) and inflammation in many chronic illnesses including severe mental illness. Because of this, investigators incorporated BMI into the comparison and determined that once controlling for BMI in the model, none of the inflammatory markers remained significantly different between those with and without bipolar disorder even though BMI was significantly higher in those with bipolar. Thus, it was determined that interventions targeting BMI in relation to inflammation should be incorporated in treatment of bipolar disorder.

To learn more about this research, read the paper here.