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Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid concentrations in red blood cell membranes relate to schizotypal traits in healthy adults.

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  • 1University Laboratory of Physiology, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK.


Reduced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in red blood cell (RBC) membranes are often found in patients with schizophrenia. Here we investigated whether membrane concentrations of these fatty acids might vary as a function of schizotypal traits in non-psychotic individuals. Twenty-five healthy adults completed the O-LIFE schizotypal trait inventory and fatty acid composition of their venous blood samples was analysed via gas-liquid chromatography. Correlations between schizotypy measures and RBC fatty acids were examined and comparisons made between groups high and low on fatty acid measures and schizotypy scores. The omega-6 fatty acids arachidonic, adrenic and docosapentaenoic acid were directly related to positive schizotypal trait measures, as were most omega-3 fatty acids, but none were related to a negative, withdrawn form of schizotypy. Our findings of high RBC concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in healthy adults with positive schizotypal traits clearly contrast with the low levels often found in schizophrenia, but are quite consistent with evidence that omega-3 fatty acids (notably EPA) can be useful in the treatment of schizophrenic illness.

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