Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega-3 status and cerebrospinal fluid corticotrophin releasing hormone in perpetrators of domestic violence

Hibbeln JR, Bissette G, Umhau JC, George DT.  (2004) Biol Psychiatry. 56(11) 895-7 

Web URL: View this abstract via PubMed here


BACKGROUND: Elevated levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone in the cortical-hippocampal-amygdala pathway increase fear and anxiety, which are components of defensive and violent behaviors. Prostaglandins E2 and F2alpha, which increase corticotrophin-releasing hormone RNA expression in this pathway, are reduced by dietary intakes of omega-3 fats. METHODS: Among 21 perpetrators of domestic violence, cerebrospinal fluid and plasma were assessed for corticotrophin-releasing hormone and fatty acid compositions, respectively. RESULTS: Lower plasma docosahexaenoic acid (wt% fatty acids) alone predicted greater cerebrospinal fluid corticotrophin-releasing hormone (pg/mL), in exponential (r = -.67, p < .006) and linear regressions (r = -0.68, p < .003 excluding four subjects with the highest docosahexaenate levels). CONCLUSIONS: In this small observational study, low plasma docosahexaenoic acid levels were correlated to higher cerebrospinal fluid corticotrophin-releasing hormone levels. Placebo controlled trials can determine if dietary omega-3 fatty acids can reduce excessive corticotrophin-releasing hormone levels in psychiatric illnesses.