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: 4.13). 02/2005; 65(8):1051-9. DOI: 10.2165/00003495-200565080-00002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    ABSTRACT: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is highly prevalent in children and adolescents and both environmental and genetic factors play major roles. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential nutrients for humans. PUFAs are postulated tocontribute to the development of the infant brain and an imbalance in these may increase the risk of ADHD. In recent clinical studies, supplementation with PUFAs improved symptoms of ADHD in some cases. Current findings from randomized trials are limited and have not consistently supported the generalized clinical use of PUFA supplements (omega-3 fatty acids) as a primary or supplementary treatment for children with ADHD. The relative efficacy of PUFAs supplementation was modest compared with currently available pharmacotherapies for ADHD such as psychostimulants, atomoxetine, or α(2) agonists. However, given its relatively benign side-effect profile and evidence of modest efficacy, it may be reasonable to use PUFAs supplementation to augment traditional pharmacologic interventions or for families who decline other psychopharmacologic options. If used it can be recommended a combination of PUFAs omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid EPA, and gamma-linoleic acid GLA) suplemented daily with higher doses of eicosapentanoic acid at least for 4 months.
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    ABSTRACT: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is plant-based essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that must be obtained through the diet. This could explain in part why the severe deficiency in omega-3 intake pointed by numerous epidemiologic studies may increase the brain’s vulnerability representing an important risk factor in the development and/or deterioration of certain cardio- and neuropathologies. The roles of ALA in neurological disorders remain unclear, especially in stroke that is a leading cause of death. We and others have identified ALA as a potential nutraceutical to protect the brain from stroke, characterized by its pleiotropic effects in neuroprotection, vasodilation of brain arteries, and neuroplasticity.This review highlights how chronic administration of ALA protects against rodent models of hypoxic-ischemic injury and exerts an anti-depressant-like activity, effects that likely involve multiple mechanisms in brain, and may be applied in stroke prevention. One major effect may be through an increase in mature brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a widely expressed protein in brain that plays critical roles in neuronal maintenance, and learning and memory. Understanding the precise roles of ALA in neurological disorders will provide the underpinnings for the development of new therapies for patients and families who could be devastated by these disorders.
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    ABSTRACT: We determined apparent digestibility coefficients (ADCs) of macronutrients, amino acids and fatty acids for freshwater (Spirulina, SPI; Chlorella, CHL) and marine (Schizochytrium, SCI) microalgal ingredients in Nile tilapia via four diets: reference (Ref containing fish and plant feedstuffs) and SPI, CHL and SCI (Ref/dried algal cells at 7:3). ADCs of crude protein were significantly higher in SPI than in CHL, comparing well with literature values for fishmeal and plant feedstuffs. ADCs of all essential amino acids were generally higher in SPI. Very high lysine and methionine ADCs in SPI and SCI were similar to or higher than reported value for plants. SCI had 5–10 times richest lipid and n−3 PUFA contents, significantly highest ADCs for lipid, n−3 and n−6 PUFA; and highest content and digestibility of DHA (undetected in other microalgae). Crude fibre ADCs were significantly higher in Ref and SPI than in SCI and CHL. CHL's highest fibre content (79 g kg−1) possibly depressed its ADCs of five essential amino acids and n−3 PUFA. Results suggest that SPI is a good alternative protein and SCI a quality fish oil substitute or long-chain PUFA supplement for tilapia diets.
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