Food and Behaviour Research

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The association between polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption and the transition to psychosis in ultra-high risk individuals

Pawełczyk T, Trafalska E, Kotlicka-Antczak M, Pawełczyk A. (2016) Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 108 30-7. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2016.03.010. Epub 2016 Mar 25. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here.


PUFA deficiencies in cellular membranes have been observed in ultra-high risk (HR) individuals and in early schizophrenia. It is uncertain whether dietary PUFA consumption can be associated with the risk of transition to psychosis in HR individuals.

The aim of the study was to assess PUFA consumption and confirm whether dietary habits are related to the risk of transition to full-threshold psychosis in HR individuals during a 12-month follow-up. PUFA consumption during the previous year was analyzed in 62 high-risk individuals (HR) and 33 healthy controls (HC) at the beginning of the follow-up period using a validated Food-Frequency Questionnaire and the Polish Food Composition Tables.

Fifteen HR individuals converted intopsychosis (C-HR) during the 12-month follow-up. C-HR individuals reported significantly higher consumption of n-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid, LA and arachidonic acid, AA) in comparison with individuals who did not develop psychosis (NC-HR). The C-HR group reported a significantly higher AA/(EPA+DHA) consumption ratio than the NC-HR group. HC reported significantly higher consumption of most n-3 PUFA and lower consumptionof all n-6 PUFA than both groups of HR individuals.

The results suggest that dietary patterns of PUFA consumption may play a role in the conversion to psychosis of HR individuals.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


In this observational study, individuals at high risk for psychosis had lower dietary intakes of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) and higher intakes of omega-6 LC-PUFA than matched controls.  

Furthermore, lower omega-3 and higher omega-6 LC-PUFA consumption in the high-risk group was predictive of transition to full psychosis over a 12 month follow-up period.

These findings support the existing evidence that relative deficiences of long-chain omega-3 (EPA and DHA) increase the risk for developing schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.  

This evidence already includes a controlled intervention study showing that dietary supplementation with omega-3 LC-PUFA in high-risk individuals not only protected against the development of psychosis in the following 12 months, but for a further 7 years of follow-up. See: