Omega-3 fatty acids may play role in bipolar disorder

December 7, 2015
Omega-3 fatty acids may play role in bipolar disorder

(HealthDay)—There may be a link between levels of omega-3 fatty acids and bipolar disorder, according to a small study published in the November issue of Bipolar Disorders.

Researchers compared 27 people with and 31 people without the mental illness. The team determined plasma concentrations of five (PUFAs) (linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, alpha-linolenic acid [ALA], docosahexaenoic acid [DHA], and eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]), two saturated fatty acids (palmitic acid and stearic acid) and two monounsaturated (palmitoleic acid and oleic acid) in esterified (E) and unesterified (UE) forms.

In exploratory comparison, the researchers found lower UE:E EPA in the bipolar disorder group than the healthy controls group (P < 0.0001), and, at follow-up in the bipolar disorder group, UE, E DHA:ALA, and UE EPA:ALA were lower (P < 0.002). The team also found that mania severity and suicidality were positively correlated with UE:E EPA ratio, and several plasma levels and ratios correlated with panic disorder and psychosis.

"Altered n-3 PUFA ratios could indicate changes in PUFA metabolism concurrent with symptom improvement," the authors write. "Our findings are consistent with preclinical and postmortem data and suggest testing interventions that increase n-3 and decrease n-6 dietary PUFA intake."

Explore further: Lower availability of omega-3 fatty acids associated with bipolar disorder

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