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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Aug 1;32(6):1501-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2008.05.009. Epub 2008 May 20.

Periventricular white matter hyperintensities as predictors of suicide attempts in bipolar disorders and unipolar depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.


The aim of this study was to evaluate whether deep white matter hyperintensities (DWMH) and periventricular white matter hyperintensities (PVH) are associated with suicidal behavior in patients with major affective disorders. Subjects were 99 consecutively admitted inpatients (42 men; 57 women; mean age: 46.5 years [SD=15.2; Min./Max.=19/79]) with a diagnosis of major affective disorder (bipolar disorder type I, bipolar disorder type-II and unipolar major depressive disorder). 44.4% of the participants had made at least one previous suicide attempt. T2-weighted brain magnetic resonance images were rated for the presence and extension of WMH using the modified Fazekas scale. Patients were interviewed for clinical data on average 5 days after admission. Bivariate analyses, corrected for multiple-testing, and logistic regression analysis were used to test the association between suicide attempts and clinical variables. Attempters and nonattempters differed only in the presence of PVH--the former were more likely to have PVH. The logistic regression indicated that the presence of PVH was robustly associated with suicidal behaviors after controlling for age (OR: 8.08). In conclusion, neuroimaging measures may be markers of risk for suicidal attempts in patients with major affective disorders.

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