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Neuropsychobiology. 2011;63(4):219-23. doi: 10.1159/000321804. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Supplementation with eicosapentaenoic omega-3 fatty acid does not influence serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in diabetes mellitus patients with major depression: a randomized controlled pilot study.

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CoRPS-Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic Diseases, Department of Medical Psychology and Neuropsychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands.



Low brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels are observed in both depressed and diabetes patients. Animal research has shown that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids increase BDNF levels. In this exploratory randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study in diabetes patients with major depression, we tested whether (a) omega- 3 ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA) leads to increased serum BDNF levels and (b) whether changes in BDNF levels are associated with corresponding changes in depression.


Patients received 1 g/day E-EPA (n = 13) or placebo (n = 12) for 12 weeks, in addition to ongoing antidepressant therapy. At baseline and 12-week follow-up, we determined serum BDNF levels and depression severity, using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale.


We found no effect of E-EPA on BDNF levels (t = -0.144, p = 0.887), and changes in BDNF levels and depression severity were not significantly associated (Spearman's ρ = -0.115, p = 0.593).


Our study does not provide evidence that supplementation with E-EPA improves BDNF levels in depressed diabetes patients already using antidepressants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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