Elevated Plasma Oxidative Stress Markers in Individuals With Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Correlation With Aggression in Humans

Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Jan 15;79(2):127-35. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.01.014. Epub 2014 Jan 29.


Background: Animal and clinical studies suggest a link between inflammation and oxidative stress. Because oxidative stress is an inherent part of inflammation, and inflammation is associated with behavioral aggression in lower mammals and humans, we hypothesized that markers of oxidative stress would be related to aggression in human subjects. In this case-control study, markers of oxidative stress and aggression were assessed in human subjects with histories of recurrent, problematic, impulsive aggressive behavior and in nonaggressive comparator subjects.

Methods: Plasma levels of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine and 8-isoprostane were examined in the context of measures of aggression and impulsivity in physically healthy subjects with intermittent explosive disorder (n = 69), nonaggressive subjects with Axis I or II disorders (n = 61), and nonaggressive subjects with no history of Axis I or II disorders (n = 67).

Results: Levels of plasma 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine and 8-isoprostane were significantly higher in subjects with intermittent explosive disorder compared with psychiatric or normal control subjects. In addition, both oxidative stress markers correlated with a composite measure of aggression; more specifically, 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine correlated with measures reflecting a history of actual aggressive behavior in all subjects.

Conclusions: These data suggest a positive relationship between plasma markers of oxidative stress and aggression in human subjects. This finding adds to the complex picture of the central neuromodulatory role of aggression in human subjects.

Keywords: 8-ISO; 8-OH-DG; Aggression; Impulsivity; Inflammation; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Deoxyguanosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxyguanosine / blood
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Dinoprost / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dinoprost / blood
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / blood*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • 8-epi-prostaglandin F2alpha
  • 8-Hydroxy-2'-Deoxyguanosine
  • Dinoprost
  • Deoxyguanosine