Major depression is associated with lower omega-3 fatty acid levels in patients with recent acute coronary syndromes

Biol Psychiatry. 2004 May 1;55(9):891-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.01.021.


Background: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are intrinsic cell membrane components and closely involved in neurotransmission and receptor function. Lower omega-3 levels are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), increases in cardiac events in CAD patients, and depression. We sought to examine relationships between depression and serum levels of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs in patients recovering from acute coronary syndromes (ACS).

Methods: We carried out a case-control study of serum PUFA levels and current major depression in 54 age- and sex-matched pairs approximately 2 months following ACS.

Results: Depressed patients had significantly lower concentrations of total omega-3 and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and higher ratios of arachidonic acid (AA) to DHA, AA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and n-3 to n-6 than controls. There were no baseline differences in any potential risk or protective factors for depression.

Conclusions: Results are consistent with previous reports in depressed patients without CAD, and with literature concerning omega-3 levels and risk of CAD events. Dietary, genetic, and hormonal factors may all play a role in both depression and CAD. Both prospective studies and randomized trials are needed to help clarify the interrelationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3