Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies.
ABSTRACT We review three studies of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depression that were carried out by our research group at the Beer Sheva Mental Health Center. The first study examined eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) versus placebo as an adjunct to antidepressant treatment in 20 unipolar patients with recurrent major depression. The second study used omega-3 fatty acids in childhood major depression; 28 children aged 6-12 were randomized to omega-3 fatty acids or placebo as pharmacologic monotherapy. The third study was an open-label add-on trial of EPA in bipolar depression. Twelve bipolar outpatients with depressive symptoms were treated with 1.5-2.0 g/day of EPA for up to 6 months. In the adult unipolar depression study, highly significant benefits were found by week 3 of EPA treatment compared with placebo. In the child study, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed highly significant effects of omega-3 on each of the three rating scales. In the bipolar depression study, 8 of the 10 patients who completed at least 1 month of follow-up achieved a 50% or greater reduction in Hamilton depression (Ham-D) scores within 1 month. No significant side effects were reported in any of the studies. Omega-3 fatty acids were shown to be more effective than placebo for depression in both adults and children in small controlled studies and in an open study of bipolar depression. (This review discusses three studies, all from our group, completed before the clinical trial registry was initiated.)
Article: Convergent functional genomic studies of omega-3 fatty acids in stress reactivity, bipolar disorder and alcoholism.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Omega-3 fatty acids have been proposed as an adjuvant treatment option in psychiatric disorders. Given their other health benefits and their relative lack of toxicity, teratogenicity and side effects, they may be particularly useful in children and in females of child-bearing age, especially during pregnancy and postpartum. A comprehensive mechanistic understanding of their effects is needed. Here we report translational studies demonstrating the phenotypic normalization and gene expression effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in a stress-reactive knockout mouse model of bipolar disorder and co-morbid alcoholism, using a bioinformatic convergent functional genomics approach integrating animal model and human data to prioritize disease-relevant genes. Additionally, to validate at a behavioral level the novel observed effects on decreasing alcohol consumption, we also tested the effects of DHA in an independent animal model, alcohol-preferring (P) rats, a well-established animal model of alcoholism. Our studies uncover sex differences, brain region-specific effects and blood biomarkers that may underpin the effects of DHA. Of note, DHA modulates some of the same genes targeted by current psychotropic medications, as well as increases myelin-related gene expression. Myelin-related gene expression decrease is a common, if nonspecific, denominator of neuropsychiatric disorders. In conclusion, our work supports the potential utility of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, for a spectrum of psychiatric disorders such as stress disorders, bipolar disorder, alcoholism and beyond.Translational psychiatry. 01/2011; 1:e4.