Serum total cholesterol correlates positively to central serotonergic turnover in male but not in female subjects

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Apr 16;34(3):527-31. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.02.012. Epub 2010 Feb 14.


Reduced central serotonergic activity and low total serum cholesterol have been related to increased aggression, violent behavior, and suicidality. Searching for a correlation between them, we estimated serum total cholesterol and CSF levels of the main serotonin metabolite 5-HIAA in medication free male and female subjects for whom diagnostic lumbar puncture was performed. To eliminate age influence, we included in the study subjects in the age range 26 to 45years. In a group of 62 subjects (30 males), found negative after diagnostic neurological examination, the correlation was not significant for the whole group, but after sex stratification, a significant positive correlation was revealed for males but not for females. These results were replicated in a second group of 76 subjects (31 males) with clinical and laboratory findings suggestive of multiple sclerosis (clinically isolated syndrome). The results link low cholesterol to low serotonergic activity only in males, predisposing them for violent and risky behaviors. This phenomenon could be seen as an evolutionary trait, possibly a result of the distinct role of males in a hunter-gatherer environment of evolutionary adaptedness, and may contribute to the understanding of the higher incidence of violent behavior observed in males.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / blood
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Statistics as Topic*


  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Cholesterol