Low cholesterol, impulsivity and violence revisited

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2018 Apr;25(2):103-107. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000395.


Purpose of review: To summarize the recent findings on the association of cholesterol levels with impulsivity and violence.

Recent findings: Several authors have recently highlighted the importance of confounding factors that mask the association between cholesterol and impulsivity or violent behaviour. In particular, demographic factors and presence of psychiatric disorders can play a role in the discrepancies present in literature. Men seem to be more sensitive to low cholesterol levels as the association between low cholesterol levels and aggression is found mostly in men. Cholesterol may play a role as a moderator of the serotonergic function and interact with associations between relevant gene variants and impulsivity. Lowering cholesterol levels with statins brings about several changes in the serotonergic system, nerve cell membrane microviscosity and behaviour, and needs to be done with precaution in susceptible individuals. Cholesterol levels could serve as a biological risk marker for violence and suicidal tendencies in psychiatric patients with depression and schizophrenia.

Summary: Future studies should consider the potential nonlinearity in the association of cholesterol levels with impulsivity, and dependence of the association on gender, psychiatric condition, and environmental factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / blood*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Violence* / psychology
  • Violence* / statistics & numerical data


  • Cholesterol