Low serum HDL-cholesterol levels are associated with long symptom duration in patients with major depressive disorder


Soili M. Lehto, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, PO Box 1777, FIN-70210 Kuopio, Finland. Email: soili.lehto@kuh.fi


Aims:  The purpose of the present study was to examine whether the association between depression and the serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is modified by symptom duration.

Methods:  Depressed patients (n = 88) and an age- and sex-matched group of healthy general population controls (n = 88) underwent a Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID), and depressed participants reported the duration of their symptoms. The serum levels of total cholesterol (TC), HDL-C, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), triglycerides (TG) and non-HDL, and the ratios of LDL-C/HDL and TC/HDL-C were assessed.

Results:  Major depressive disorder (MDD) subjects with a long symptom duration (≥3 years) had lower levels of HDL-C compared with healthy controls or MDD subjects with a symptom duration <3 years. The likelihood for long symptom duration doubled for each 0.5-mmol/L decrease in HDL-C levels in regression models adjusted for age, gender, marital status, overweight, symptom severity, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical exercise, medication use, and non-HDL-C (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:  These findings suggest that a low serum HDL-C level, a risk factor for coronary heart disease, is specifically associated with long-term depressive symptomatology.