Omega-3 for Bipolar Disorder: Meta-Analyses of Use in Mania and Bipolar Depression

Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Melbourne, Richmond, Victoria, Australia.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.5). 08/2011; 73(1):81-6. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.10r06710
Source: PubMed


Studies using augmentation of pharmacotherapies with omega-3 in bipolar disorder have been conducted; however, to date a specific meta-analysis in this area has not been published. Thus, we present the significant findings from meta-analyses of omega-3 in the treatment of bipolar depression and bipolar mania.
PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for clinical trials up to September 1, 2010, using the search terms bipolar disorder OR bipolar depression OR bipolar mania OR mania OR hypomania OR cyclothymia with the search terms omega 3 OR essential fatty acids OR polyunsaturated fatty acids OR DHA OR EPA OR fish oil OR flax oil. Clinical trial registries and gray literature (published or unpublished data not readily accessible via main databases) were also searched.
The analysis included randomized controlled studies 4 weeks or longer, with a sample size > 10, written in English, using omega-3 for diagnosed bipolar depression or mania. No criteria were set for age, gender, or ethnicity.
A random-effects model was used. The model analyzed the standard mean difference between treatment and placebo between baseline and endpoint, combining the effect size (Hedges g) data. Funnel plot and heterogeneity analyses (I²) were also performed.
The findings of 5 pooled datasets (n = 291) on the outcome of bipolar depression revealed a significant effect in favor of omega-3 (P = .029), with a moderate effect size of 0.34. On the outcome of mania, 5 pooled datasets (n = 291) revealed a nonsignificant effect in favor of omega-3 (P = .099), with an effect size of 0.20. Minor heterogeneity between studies on the outcome of bipolar depression was found (I² = 30%; P = .213), which was not present on the outcome of bipolar mania (I² = 0%; P = .98). Funnel plot symmetry suggested no significant likelihood of publication bias. Meta-regression analysis between sample size and effect size, however, revealed that studies with smaller sample sizes had larger effect sizes (P = .05).
The meta-analytic findings provide strong evidence that bipolar depressive symptoms may be improved by adjunctive use of omega-3. The evidence, however, does not support its adjunctive use in attenuating mania.

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    • "fatty acids have a critical role in neural function and great potential for treating depression, especially if an inflammatory causation is present [17] [18]. The antidepressant activity of omega-3 fatty acids appears to occur via modulation of norepinephrine , dopamine and serotonin re-uptake, degradation, synthesis and receptor binding; anti-inflammatory effects; and the enhancement of cell membrane fluidity [19]. A meta-analysis by Martins [20] "
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    ABSTRACT: Current treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), a prevalent and disabling mental illness, is inadequate, with two-thirds of people treated with first-line antidepressants not achieving remission. MDD is for many a chronic condition, often requiring multiple treatment attempts, thus development of additional interventions is urgently required. An emerging approach to improve non-response to antidepressants is the use of adjunctive nutraceuticals. The pathophysiology of MDD is considered to involve a range of abnormalities (monoamine impairment, neuro-endocrinological changes, reduced brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and cytokine alterations). By targeting an array of these key neurobiological pathways via specific nutraceuticals (S-adenosyl methionine; [SAMe], 5-HTP [active tryptophan], folinic acid [active folic acid], omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc), there is the potential to provide a more comprehensive therapeutic biological approach to treat depression. We are currently conducting a National Health and Medical Research Council funded study in Australia (APP1048222). The clinical trial is phase II/III, multi-site, 3-arm, 8-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study using SAMe + folinic acid versus a combination nutraceutical (SAMe, 5-HTP, folinic acid, omega-3, and zinc) or matching placebo in 300 currently depressed participants with diagnosed MDD who are non-responsive to current antidepressants (ANZCTR, protocol number: 12613001300763). The results may provide evidence for a novel adjunctive neurobiological approach for treating depression.
    04/2015; 2(1). DOI:10.1016/j.aimed.2015.02.001
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    • "Since the pathophysiological mechanisms and the therapeutic approach for bipolar disorder differ from those of MDD [22], [23], when previous analyses included and pooled findings of studies conducted on these groups of different patients, they led to inconclusive results. It has been hypothesized that the efficacy of omega-3 PUFA may be different in the depressive phase rather than the maniacal episode [110], and recent systematic analysis of trials focused on this topic showed positive effects of omega-3 PUFA as an adjunctive treatment for depressive but not mania in bipolar disorder patients [111], [112]. Thus, we separately grouped the studies conducted on patients with bipolar disorder and explored efficacy of omega-3 PUFA in ameliorating the depressive symptoms, finding a significant efficacy of the supplement in two [65], [75] out of the three trials. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplementation in depressed patients have been suggested to improve depressive symptomatology, previous findings are not univocal. To conduct an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of omega-3 PUFA treatment of depressive disorders, taking into account the clinical differences among patients included in the studies. A search on MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Database of RCTs using omega-3 PUFA on patients with depressive symptoms published up to August 2013 was performed. Standardized mean difference in clinical measure of depression severity was primary outcome. Type of omega-3 used (particularly eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) and omega-3 as mono- or adjuvant therapy was also examined. Meta-regression analyses assessed the effects of study size, baseline depression severity, trial duration, dose of omega-3, and age of patients. Meta-analysis of 11 and 8 trials conducted respectively on patients with a DSM-defined diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) and patients with depressive symptomatology but no diagnosis of MDD demonstrated significant clinical benefit of omega-3 PUFA treatment compared to placebo (standardized difference in random-effects model 0.56 SD [95% CI: 0.20, 0.92] and 0.22 SD [95% CI: 0.01, 0.43], respectively; pooled analysis was 0.38 SD [95% CI: 0.18, 0.59]). Use of mainly EPA within the preparation, rather than DHA, influenced final clinical efficacy. Significant clinical efficacy had the use of omega-3 PUFA as adjuvant rather than mono-therapy. No relation between efficacy and study size, baseline depression severity, trial duration, age of patients, and study quality was found. Omega-3 PUFA resulted effective in RCTs on patients with bipolar disorder, whereas no evidence was found for those exploring their efficacy on depressive symptoms in young populations, perinatal depression, primary disease other than depression and healthy subjects. The use of omega-3 PUFA is effective in patients with diagnosis of MDD and on depressive patients without diagnosis of MDD.
    PLoS ONE 05/2014; 9(5):e96905. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0096905 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "A multitude of in vitro results suggests potential benefits of n-3 PUFA enriched diets typically supplemented by fish oil, but translating the knowledge to a viable therapeutic model remains challenging [10], [12], [13], [52]–[54]. There is a necessity for a more systematic comprehension of the etiologic relationships between the fish oil and their reported effects on various illnesses. "
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    ABSTRACT: The health benefits of fish oil enriched with high omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are widely documented. Fish oil as dietary supplements, however, show moderate clinical efficacy, highlighting an immediate scope of systematic in vitro feedback. Our transcriptomic study was designed to investigate the genomic shift of murine brains fed on fish oil enriched diets. A customized fish oil enriched diet (FD) and standard lab diet (SD) were separately administered to two randomly chosen populations of C57BL/6J mice from their weaning age until late adolescence. Statistical analysis mined 1,142 genes of interest (GOI) differentially altered in the hemibrains collected from the FD- and SD-fed mice at the age of five months. The majority of identified GOI (∼40%) encodes proteins located in the plasma membrane, suggesting that fish oil primarily facilitated the membrane-oriented biofunctions. FD potentially augmented the nervous system's development and functions by selectively stimulating the Src-mediated calcium-induced growth cascade and the downstream PI3K-AKT-PKC pathways. FD reduced the amyloidal burden, attenuated oxidative stress, and assisted in somatostatin activation-the signatures of attenuation of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and affective disorder. FD induced elevation of FKBP5 and suppression of BDNF, which are often linked with the improvement of anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Hence we anticipate efficacy of FD in treating illnesses such as depression that are typically triggered by the hypoactivities of dopaminergic, adrenergic, cholinergic, and GABAergic networks. Contrastingly, FD's efficacy could be compromised in treating illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which are triggered by hyperactivities of the same set of neuromodulators. A more comprehensive investigation is recommended to elucidate the implications of fish oil on disease pathomechanisms, and the result-driven repositioning of fish oil utilization may revitalize its therapeutic efficacy.
    PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e90425. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0090425 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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