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Are remitted affective disorders and familial risk of affective disorders associated with metabolic syndrome, inflammation and oxidative stress? – a monozygotic twin study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2019

Ninja Meinhard Ottesen*
Copenhagen Affective Disorders Research Centre (CADIC), Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Iselin Meluken
Copenhagen Affective Disorders Research Centre (CADIC), Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ruth Frikke-Schmidt
Department of Clinical Biochemistry Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Peter Plomgaard
Department of Clinical Biochemistry Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Thomas Scheike
Section of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Brisa S. Fernandes
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Michael Berk
Deakin University, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Geelong, Australia Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
Henrik Enghusen Poulsen
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Bispebjerg Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
Lars Vedel Kessing
Copenhagen Affective Disorders Research Centre (CADIC), Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Kamilla Miskowiak
Copenhagen Affective Disorders Research Centre (CADIC), Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Maj Vinberg
Copenhagen Affective Disorders Research Centre (CADIC), Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
Author for correspondence: Ninja Meinhard Ottesen, E-mail:



Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with reduced life expectancy in patients with affective disorders, however, whether MetS also plays a role before the onset of affective disorder is unknown. We aimed to investigate whether MetS, inflammatory markers or oxidative stress act as risk factors for affective disorders, and whether MetS is associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress.


We conducted a high-risk study including 204 monozygotic (MZ) twins with unipolar or bipolar disorder in remission or partial remission (affected), their unaffected co-twins (high-risk) and twins with no personal or family history of affective disorder (low-risk). Metabolic Syndrome was ascertained according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria. Inflammatory markers and markers of oxidative stress were analyzed from fasting blood and urine samples, respectively.


The affected and the high-risk group had a significantly higher prevalence of MetS compared to the low-risk group (20% v. 15% v. 2.5%, p = 0.0006), even after adjusting for sex, age, smoking and alcohol consumption. No differences in inflammatory and oxidative markers were seen between the three groups. Further, MetS was associated with alterations in inflammatory markers, and oxidative stress was modestly correlated with inflammation.


Metabolic syndrome is associated with low-grade inflammation and may act as a risk factor and a trait marker for affective disorders. If confirmed in longitudinal studies, this suggests the importance of early intervention and preventive approaches targeted towards unhealthy lifestyle factors that may contribute to later psychopathology.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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