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Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1156-62.

Plasma eicosapentaenoic acid is inversely associated with severity of depressive symptomatology in the elderly: data from the Bordeaux sample of the Three-City Study.

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  • 1INSERM U593, Equipe Epidémiologie de la Nutrition et des Comportements Alimentaires, Bordeaux, France. catherine.feart@isped.u-bordeaux2.fr



Depressive symptoms are commonly observed in elderly people, and nutritional factors such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been proposed as potential protective determinants of depressive disorders.


The objective was to analyze the relation between plasma fatty acids and severity of depressive symptomatology (DS) in French elderly community dwellers.


The study population (mean age: 74.6 y) consisted of 1390 subjects from Bordeaux (France) included in the Three-City Study cohort. DS was evaluated by using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. The use of antidepressant drugs was recorded. The proportion of each plasma fatty acid was determined. Cross-sectional analysis of the association between plasma fatty acids and severity of DS was performed by multilinear regression.


Compared with control subjects, subjects with DS were older, were more often women, were more often widowed or single, were of lower income, were receiving antidepressant treatment more frequently, had a lower incidence of hypercholesterolemia, and had lower Mini-Mental State Examination scores (mean: -1.1 point; P < 0.0001). Plasma eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was lower in the subjects with DS than in the control subjects (0.85% compared with 1.01%; P = 0.001). There were no significant differences in any other fatty acid. When adjusted for potential confounders, such as sociodemographic characteristics and health indicators, plasma EPA was inversely associated with the severity of DS (beta = -0.170, P = 0.040) in subjects taking antidepressants.


Higher plasma EPA was associated with a lower severity of DS in elderly subjects, especially those taking antidepressants.

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