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Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Dec 1;56(11):895-7.

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

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  • 1Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics and Biochemistry, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.



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.


Among 21 perpetrators of domestic violence, cerebrospinal fluid and plasma were assessed for corticotrophin-releasing hormone and fatty acid compositions, respectively.


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).


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.

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