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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Available from: Caroline Stokes
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    • "Increasing attention has focused on marine microalgae for aquaculture feeds because of their increased fatty acid profiles . In contrast to terrestrial plant protein and oil sources, microalgae are relatively high in DHA and EPA, which are important for both maintaining fish health and imparting neurological, cardiovascular and anticancer benefits to humans (Peet & Stokes 2005; Brasky et al. 2010). Tilapia production grew by 7–10% year À1 over the last 20 years, reaching 3 078 000 mt in 2009 (Fitzsimmons 2010). "
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Aquaculture Nutrition
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Behavioral and Brain Functions
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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). "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2012
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