Food and Behaviour Research

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Oxidative stress predicts depressive symptom changes with omega-3 fatty acid treatment in coronary artery disease patients.

Mazereeuw G, Herrmann N, Andreazza AC, Scola G, Ma DW, Oh PI, Lanctôt KL. (2016)    

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Antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) treatment in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients remains unpredictable. N-3 PUFA can mitigate oxidative stress, which is common in CAD and may contribute to depressive symptoms. This study investigated whether greater pre-treatment oxidative stress, measured by the ratios of late-stage lipid peroxidation markers (malondialdehyde [MDA], 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal [4-HNE], and 8-isoprostane [8-ISO]) to an early-stage marker (lipid hydroperoxides [LPH]), predicted n-3 PUFA antidepressant benefits in CAD.


This was a secondary analysis of CAROTID (CAD Randomized Omega-3 Trial in Depression, NCT00981383). Patient demographics and medical characteristics were collected. Depressive symptoms were measured using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D). Patients were then randomized to receive either 1.9g/day n-3 PUFA or placebo for 12weeks, after which HAM-D scores were reassessed. Baseline LPH, 4-HNE, 8-ISO, MDA and n-3 PUFA concentrations were analysed from fasting blood.


Seventy-nine patients (age=61.1±8.5, 76% male, HAM-D=7.5±6.1) were included (n=45 placebo, n=34 n-3 PUFA). In the n-3 PUFA group, higher baseline ratios of MDA/LPH (primary analysis: F1,33=6.20, beta=-0.35, p=0.018), 4-HNE/LPH (exploratory analysis: F1,33=5.35, beta=-0.32, p=0.027), and 8-ISO/LPH (exploratory analysis: F1,33=6.10, beta=-0.33, p=0.019), indicating higher oxidative stress, were associated with greater depressive symptom improvement. In each model, higher baseline EPA+DHA concentrations independently predicted depressive symptom improvement with n-3 PUFA (MDA/LPH: F1,33=11.05, p=0.002; 4-HNE/LPH: F1,33=11.36, p=0.002; 8-ISO/LPH: F1,33=13.15, p=0.001). No associations were observed in the placebo group.


n-3 PUFA may be more likely to improve depressive symptoms in CAD patients with pre-treatment evidence of oxidative stress.