People with bipolar disorder have significantly higher levels of growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) than healthy controls, according to study data published in Translational Neuroscience. GDF-15 levels were also found to correlate with age and illness duration.

Researchers measured plasma GDF-15 levels by immunoassay in 46 patients with type I bipolar disorder and 33 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. Of the 46 patients with bipolar disorder, 23 had euthymia and 23 had mania. Median [interquartile range] GDF-15 levels were significantly higher (P <.001) in patients with bipolar disorder (0.490 [0.398-0.875] pg/mL) than in controls (0.275 [0.183-0.348] pg/mL), although there was no appreciable difference in GDF-15 levels in those with euthymia compared with those with mania. 

Researchers observed a positive association between age and GDF-15 plasma levels (P =.003) and an additional modest positive correlation between illness duration and GDF-15 levels (P =.001). These results corroborate with existing data on the association between bipolar disorder and accelerated aging.

Continue Reading

Related Articles

Researchers noted that the small sample size and cross-sectional study design may limit data generalizability. Future studies are necessary to establish the validity of GDF-15 as a marker for prognostic evaluation of bipolar disorder. Researchers noted that therapeutic interventions focused on GDF-15 levels may decrease mortality risk and increase longevity in patients with bipolar disorder.


Yang F, Barbosa IG, Vieira EL, Bauer ME, Rocha NP, Teixeira AL. Further evidence of accelerated aging in bipolar disorder: focus on GDF-15. Transl Neurosci. 2018;9:17-21.