Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Erythrocyte polyunsaturated fatty acid status, memory, cognition and mood in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and healthy controls

Milte CM, Sinn N, Street SJ, Buckley JD, Coates AM, Howe PR. (2011) Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids.  84(5-6): 153-61. Epub 2011 Mar 9. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels are altered in adults with cognitive decline and also depression. Depression facilitates progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia.

We investigated associations between omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs and cognition, memory and depression in 50 adults ≥65 years with MCI and 29 controls. Memory, depressive symptoms and erythrocyte PUFAs (% total fatty acids) were assessed.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was lower in MCI vs controls (.94% vs 1.26%, p<.01); n-6 PUFAs were higher: dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (1.51% vs 1.32%, p<.01), arachidonic acid (11.54% vs 10.70%, p<.01), n-6 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA:.46% vs.34%, p<.01), and total n-6 PUFA (24.14% vs 23.37%, p<.05). Higher n-6 DPA predicted poorer mental health. Lower n-3 DPA was associated with higher self-reported bodily pain. Adults with MCI had higher depression scores (3.05±.39 vs 1.33±.24, p<.01).

Depressive symptoms associated with elevated n-6 PUFA may contribute to cognitive decline in this population.