Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders

Swallownest Court Hospital, Doncaster and South Humber Healthcare NHS Trust, Sheffield, UK.
Drugs (Impact Factor: 4.34). 02/2005; 65(8):1051-9. DOI: 10.2165/00003495-200565080-00002
Source: PubMed


The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for physical health is now well recognised and there is increasing evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may also be important to mental health. The two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have important biological functions in the CNS. DHA is a major structural component of neuronal membranes, and changing the fatty acid composition of neuronal membranes leads to functional changes in the activity of receptors and other proteins embedded in the membrane phospholipid. EPA has important physiological functions that can affect neuronal activity. Epidemiological studies indicate an association between depression and low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, and biochemical studies have shown reduced levels of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cell membranes in both depressive and schizophrenic patients. Five of six double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in schizophrenia, and four of six such trials in depression, have reported therapeutic benefit from omega-3 fatty acids in either the primary or secondary statistical analysis, particularly when EPA is added on to existing psychotropic medication. Individual clinical trials have suggested benefits of EPA treatment in borderline personality disorder and of combined omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The evidence to date supports the adjunctive use of omega-3 fatty acids in the management of treatment unresponsive depression and schizophrenia. As these conditions are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus, omega-3 fatty acids should also benefit the physical state of these patients. However, as the clinical research evidence is preliminary, large, and definitive randomised controlled trials similar to those required for the licensing of any new pharmacological treatment are needed.

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    • "A lack of n-3 PUFAs in the diet of children and, conversely, feeding of n-3 PUFA to pregnant women and mothers may influence cognitive abilities in the offspring [14-20], and potentially affect the prevalence of ADHD [21-23]. Experimental studies have suggested that dietary supplementation with n-3 PUFAs may enhance both synaptic development and function [9,24,25]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Previous reports suggest that omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplements may reduce ADHD-like behaviour. Our aim was to investigate potential effects of n-3 PUFA supplementation in an animal model of ADHD. Methods We used spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). SHR dams were given n-3 PUFA (EPA and DHA)-enriched feed (n-6/n-3 of 1:2.7) during pregnancy, with their offspring continuing on this diet until sacrificed. The SHR controls and Wistar Kyoto (WKY) control rats were given control-feed (n-6/n-3 of 7:1). During postnatal days (PND) 25–50, offspring were tested for reinforcement-dependent attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity as well as spontaneous locomotion. The animals were then sacrificed at PND 55–60 and their neostriata were analysed for monoamine and amino acid neurotransmitters with high performance liquid chromatography. Results n-3 PUFA supplementation significantly enhanced reinforcement-controlled attention and reduced lever-directed hyperactivity and impulsiveness in SHR males whereas the opposite or no effects were observed in females. Analysis of neostriata from the same animals showed significantly enhanced dopamine and serotonin turnover ratios in the male SHRs, whereas female SHRs showed no change, except for an intermediate increase in serotonin catabolism. In contrast, both male and female SHRs showed n-3 PUFA-induced reduction in non-reinforced spontaneous locomotion, and sex-independent changes in glycine levels and glutamate turnover. Conclusions Feeding n-3 PUFAs to the ADHD model rats induced sex-specific changes in reinforcement-motivated behaviour and a sex-independent change in non-reinforcement-associated behaviour, which correlated with changes in presynaptic striatal monoamine and amino acid signalling, respectively. Thus, dietary n-3 PUFAs may partly ameliorate ADHD-like behaviour by reinforcement-induced mechanisms in males and partly via reinforcement-insensitive mechanisms in both sexes.
    Behavioral and Brain Functions 12/2012; 8(1):56. DOI:10.1186/1744-9081-8-56 · 1.97 Impact Factor
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    • "In particular EPA appears effective at restoring mood, compared to DHA (Song and Zhao, 2007; Peet and Stokes, 2005). Also, cognitively impaired or even demented PD patients may benefit from n-3 PUFA treatment, as the lipids are known to improve cognition in cognitively impaired elderly (Cole et al., 2009). "

    Eicosapentaenoic acid: sources, health effects, and role in disease prevention, Edited by Theodore G. Bradley, Francisco P. Vargas, 01/2012: chapter Eicosapentaenoic acid and bone metabolism: pages 47-74; Nova Science Publishers.
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    • "The main arguments suggesting a prominent effect of EPA stem from the results of clinical assays in mood disorders. Indeed, at least 7 out of 10 trials in mood disorder patients using EPA-enriched formulations led to a positive outcome, while none out of 3 reported any beneficial effect of DHA-enriched preparations [95] [96] [97] [98] "
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    ABSTRACT: The current rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is unfortunately not matched by new treatment options. In the last 10 years, epidemiological, preclinical and clinical data have enlightened the possible preventive action of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) in AD and other diseases. While the contribution of recent studies to our general knowledge is priceless, many important new questions have been raised. In the present review, we aim at addressing some of these timely interrogations. First, the transport of n-3 PUFA across the blood-brain barrier is underscored based on preclinical data. Second, the relative contribution of two neuroactive n-3 PUFA found in fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6 n-3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5 n-3), remains unclear and is reviewed. Third, clinical trials on neurodegenerative diseases consistently remind us that treating early is critical, and this is likely to be the case with n-3 PUFA in AD as well. Fourth, we draw attention to the possibility that the current knowledge translation approach to make health recommendations might have to be adapted to non-patentable endogenous compounds like n-3 PUFA. We propose that answers to these critical questions will be instrumental toward a rational use of n-3 PUFA in AD.
    Current Alzheimer research 05/2011; 8(5):470-8. DOI:10.2174/156720511796391881 · 3.89 Impact Factor
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