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Omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and subsequent mood disorders in young people with at-risk mental states: a 7-year longitudinal study

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posted on 2017-08-29, 00:00 authored by M E Berger, S Smesny, S-W Kim, C G Davey, S Rice, Z Sarnyai, M Schlögelhofer, M R Schäfer, Michael BerkMichael Berk, P D McGorry, G P Amminger
While cross-sectional studies suggest that patients with mood disorders have a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and lower levels of omega-3 PUFAs, it is unknown if a high n-6/3 ratio indicates vulnerability for depression. We tested this hypothesis in a 7-year follow-up study of young individuals with an ultra-high risk (UHR) phenotype. We conducted a secondary analysis of the Vienna omega-3 study, a longitudinal study of omega-3 PUFAs in individuals at UHR for psychosis (n=69). Levels of n-6 and n-3 PUFAs were measured in the phosphatidylethanolamine fraction of erythrocyte membranes at intake into the study. Mood disorder diagnosis was ascertained with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR and confirmed by review of medical records and interviews of caregivers. A higher n-6/3 PUFA ratio at baseline predicted mood disorders in UHR individuals over a 7-year (median) follow-up (odds ratio=1.89, 95% CI=1.075-3.338, P=0.03). This association remained significant after adjustment for age, gender, smoking, severity of depressive symptoms at baseline and n-3 supplementation. Consistent results were obtained for individual PUFAs, including lower levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. The predictive capacity of these findings was specific to mood disorders as no associations were found for any other psychiatric disorder. To our knowledge, our data provide the first prospective evidence that the n-6/3 PUFA ratio is associated with an increased risk for mood disorders in young people exhibiting an UHR phenotype. These findings may have important implications for treatment and risk stratification beyond clinical characteristics.



Translational psychiatry





Article number



1 - 6


Nature Publishing


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2017, Nature Publishing