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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2006 Feb;16(2):107-13. Epub 2005 Oct 21.

Red cell membrane omega-3 fatty acids are decreased in nondepressed patients with social anxiety disorder.

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  • 1Laboratory for the Study of Fatty Acids, Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Beilinson Campus, Petah Tiqwa, Israel.


The "phospholipid hypothesis" attributes a pathophysiologic role to the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) composition of phospholipids in depression. The aim of the present study was to determine whether the hypothesis is relevant to social anxiety disorder (SAD). The study sample consisted of 27 untreated, nondepressed patients with SAD (DSM-IV) and 22 controls. Severity of SAD was assessed with the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS). Erythrocyte PUFA concentrations were measured by gas-liquid chromatography. Concentrations of most n-3 PUFAs were lower in the patients: 18:3n-3 by 32% (p < 0.002), 20:3n-3 by 34%, 20:5n-3 by 36% (all p < 0.001) and 22:6n-3 by 18% (p = 0.002). No significant differences were observed in other fatty acids. Significant inverse correlations were obtained between levels of n-3 PUFAs and LSAS scores. In conclusion, the phospholipid hypothesis may apply to SAD, thereby opening new therapeutic options. The robust relationship between low erythrocyte n-3 PUFA concentrations and SAD justifies exploration of relevant neuropathophysiological mechanisms.

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