Berger GE, Wood SJ, Wellard RM, Proffitt TM, McConchie M, Amminger GP, Jackson GD, Velakoulis D, Pantelis C, McGorry PD (2008) Neuropsychopharmacology. 33(10): 2467-73. Epub 2008 Jan 16.
Ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that has been used in a range of neuropsychiatric conditions with some benefits. However, its mechanism of action is unknown.
Here, we investigate its effects on in vivo brain metabolism in first-episode psychosis (FEP). Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 3 T was performed in the temporal lobes of 24 FEP patients before and after 12 weeks of treatment in the context of a larger double-blind, placebo-controlled E-EPA augmentation study.
Treatment group effects for glutathione (F1,12=6.1, p=0.03), and a hemisphere-by-group interaction for glutamine/glutamate (F1,20=4.4, p=0.049) were found. Glutathione increased bilaterally and glutamate/glutamine increased in the left hemisphere following E-EPA administration. Improvement in negative symptoms correlated with metabolic brain changes, particularly glutathione (r=-0.57).
These results suggest that E-EPA augmentation alters glutathione availability and modulates the glutamine/glutamate cycle in early psychosis, with some of the metabolic brain changes being correlated with negative symptom improvement. Larger confirmatory studies of these postulated metabolic brain effects of E-EPA are warranted.