A body of evidence has implicated dietary deficiency in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in the pathophysiology and etiology of recurrent mood disorders including major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder. Cross-national and cross-sectional evidence suggests that greater habitual intake of n-3 PUFA is associated with reduced risk for developing mood symptoms. Meta-analyses provide strong evidence that patients with mood disorders exhibit low blood n-3 PUFA levels which are associated with increased risk for the initial development of mood symptoms in response to inflammation. While the etiology of this n-3 PUFA deficit may be multifactorial, n-3 PUFA supplementation is sufficient to correct this deficit and may also have antidepressant effects. Rodent studies suggest that n-3 PUFA deficiency during perinatal development can recapitulate key neuropathological, neurochemical, and behavioral features associated with mood disorders. Clinical neuroimaging studies suggest that low n-3 PUFA biostatus is associated with abnormalities in cortical structure and function also observed in mood disorders. Collectively, these findings implicate dietary n-3 PUFA insufficiency, particularly during development, in the pathophysiology of mood dysregulation, and support implementation of routine screening for and treatment of n-3 PUFA deficiency in patients with mood disorders.
Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); Major depressive disorder; Omega-3 fatty acids.
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