Despite its debilitating symptoms, the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder (BD) remains unclear. One consistently compelling finding, however, has been the presence of oxidative stress. In the present investigation, we conducted a meta-analysis of studies that measured oxidative stress markers in BD patients compared to healthy controls. Search terms and selection criteria were determined a priori to identify and include all studies that measured a marker of oxidative stress in BD compared to healthy controls. Eight markers were included: superoxide dismutase, catalase, protein carbonyl, glutathione peroxidase, 3-nitrotyrosine, lipid peroxidation, nitric oxide, and DNA/RNA damage. A meta-analysis of standardized means was conducted using a random-effects model with generic inverse weighting. Between-study heterogeneity, publication bias, and sensitivity analyses were also examined for each marker. Twenty-seven papers were included in the meta-analysis, which comprised a total of 971 unique patients with BD and 886 healthy controls. Lipid peroxidation, DNA/RNA damage, and nitric oxide were significantly increased in BD patients compared to healthy controls. Additionally, the effect size for lipid peroxidation was very high. Publication bias was not detected for any of the markers. The main limitations in this meta-analysis are the high degree of heterogeneity between studies and the small number of studies used in the analysis of some markers. Additionally, the sensitivity analysis indicated that some results are not very robust. The results from this meta-analysis support the role of oxidative stress in bipolar disorder, especially to DNA, RNA, and lipids.
Keywords: Antioxidant enzymes; Bipolar disorder; Lipid peroxidation; Oxidative stress; Post-mortem brain.
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