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Open Access Research article

Bipolar disorders and Wilson’s disease

Mauro Giovanni Carta1*, Orazio Sorbello1, Maria Francesca Moro1, Krishna M Bhat2, Enrico Demelia1, Alessandra Serra1, Gioia Mura1, Federica Sancassiani1, Mario Piga1 and Luigi Demelia1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Cagliari, Italy, Cagliari, Italy

2 Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:52  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-52

Published: 30 May 2012



The aim of this study was to determine the risk for Bipolar Disorder (BD) in Wilson’s disease (WD) and to measure the impaired Quality of Life (QL) in BD with WD using standardized psychiatric diagnostic tools and a case control design.


This was a case control study. The cases were 23 consecutive patients with WD treated at the University Hospital in Cagliari, Italy, and the controls were 92 sex- and age-matched subjects with no diagnosis of WD who were randomly selected from a database used previously for an epidemiological study. Psychiatric diagnoses according to DSM-IV criteria were determined by physicians using structured interview tools (ANTAS-SCID). QL was measured by means of SF-12.


Compared to controls, WD patients had lower scores on the SF-12 and higher lifetime prevalence of DSM-IV major depressive disorders (OR = 5.7, 95% CI 2.4–17.3) and bipolar disorders (OR = 12.9, 95% CI 3.6–46.3). BD was associated with lower SF-12 in WD patients.


This study was the first to show an association between BD and WD using standardized diagnostic tools and a case control design. Reports in the literature about increased schizophrenia-like psychosis in WD and a lack of association with bipolar disorders may thus have been based on a more inclusive diagnosis of schizophrenia in the past. Our findings may explain the frequent reports of loss of emotional control, hyperactivity, loss of sexual inhibition, and irritability in WD patients. This study was limited by a small sample size.