Link Between Depression, Cholesterol May Differ by Gender

MONDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) — Gender-specific regulation of cholesterol levels may help prevent depression in the elderly, suggests a new study.

French researchers followed a large group of men and women aged 65 and older for seven years. They found that depression in women was associated with low levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), which puts them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, including stroke.

Previous research has shown that certain types of stroke increase the risk of depression.

In contrast, depression in men was linked with low levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). This association was strongest in men with a genetic vulnerability to depression related to a serotonin transporter gene.

The study appears in the July 15 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.

“Our results suggest that clinical management of abnormal lipid levels may reduce depression in the elderly, but different treatment will be required according to sex,” corresponding author Dr. Marie-Laure Ancelin, of INSERM, Montpellier, France, said in a journal news release.

“LDL-C serum level seems to be an important biological marker in men, with a narrow range for normal functioning. Above this range, cardio- or cerebro-vascular risk increases, and below it, there is increased risk of depression,” she added.

Therefore, proper regulation of HDL-C and LDL-C levels may help prevent depression in the elderly, the researchers concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about depression.