Food and Behaviour Research

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Association of plasma omega-3 and omega-6 lipids with burden of disease measures in bipolar subjects

Evans SJ, Kamali M, Prossin AR, Harrington GJ, Ellingrod VL, McInnis MG, Burant CF. (2012) J Psychiatr Res.  46(11): 1435-41. Epub 2012 Aug 11. 

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Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids have been implicated in mood disorders, yet clinical trials supplementing n-3 fats have shown mixed results. However, the predominant focus of this research has been on the n-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

We used an unbiased approach to assay plasma n-3 and omega-6 (n-6) species that interact at the level of biosynthesis and down-stream processing, to affect brain function and, potentially, mood. We used lipomic technology to assay plasma levels of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids from 40 bipolar and 18 control subjects to investigate differences in plasma levels and associations with the burden of disease markers, neuroticism and global assessment of function (GAF) and mood state (Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D)).

Most significantly, we found the levels of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) to positively correlate with neuroticism and HAM-D scores and negatively correlate with GAF scores; and HAM-D to negatively correlate with linoleic acid (LA) and positively correlate with fatty acid desaturase 2 (FADS2) activity, an enzyme responsible for converting LA to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). These associations remained significant following Bonferroni multiple testing correction.

These data suggest that specific n-6 fatty acids and the enzymes that control their biosynthesis may be useful biomarkers in measurements of depressive disorders and burden of disease, and that they should be considered when investigating the roles of n-3s.