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Croat Med J. 2014 Feb;55(1):27-37.

Eicosapentaenoic acid in serum lipids could be inversely correlated with severity of clinical symptomatology in Croatian war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Ivancica Delas, University of Zagreb, School of Medicine, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Salata 3, HR-10 000 Zagreb, Croatia,



To explore the association between plasma fatty acids composition and the severity of clinical symptoms in Croatian war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


This cross-sectional study included 62 men diagnosed with PTSD caused by combat activities during the War in Croatia 1991-1995. Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D-17) were used. Plasma fatty acids composition was determined by gas chromatography. Data about life-style habits were collected by a structured interview. To evaluate the association between plasma fatty acid levels and PTSD severity scales, multivariate general linear models (GLM) were applied while controlling for different confounders.


Significant negative correlations were found between plasma eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) level and the scores on psychological scales (τ = -0.326, P<0.001 for CAPS; τ-0.304, P =0 .001 for HAM-A; and τ = -0.345, P<0.001 for HAM-D-17). GLM confirmed that PTSD severity was affected by EPA (Wilks'Λ = 0.763-0.805, P = 0.006-0.018, ηp 0.195-0.237), arachidonic acid (AA)/EPA (Wilks'Λ = 0.699-0.757, P = 0.004, ηp 0.243-0.301), and dairy products consumption (Wilks'Λ = 0.760-0.791, P = 0.045-0.088, ηp 0.128-0.111). No other fatty acid or dietary/lifestyle variable was significant ( P = 0.362-0.633).


The study suggests that lower EPA levels are associated with the severity of clinical symptoms in PTSD.

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