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J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Aug;46(8):1024-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.04.012. Epub 2012 May 8.

Fatty acid composition in the postmortem amygdala of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

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Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama City, Toyama, Japan.


Previous studies with postmortem brain tissues showed abnormalities in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the orbitofrontal cortex of individuals with schizophrenia and mood disorders. However, in the hippocampus, we were not able to find any significant differences in PUFAs except for small differences in n-6 PUFAs. In the present study we investigated levels of PUFAs in the amygdala of postmortem brains from patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder (MDD) compared with those of unaffected controls. Amygdala samples from patients with schizophrenia (n = 15), bipolar disorder (n = 15), or MDD (n = 15), and controls matched for age, sex, and five other confounding factors (n = 15) were analyzed for fatty acid composition by gas chromatography. In contrast to previous studies of the orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus, we were unable to find any significant differences in major PUFAs. The relative compositions of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the major n-3 PUFA, were 10.0 ± 1.1%, 10.0 ± 1.3%, 9.3 ± 1.3%, and 9.7 ± 1.1%, respectively, in patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and MDD and unaffected controls (not significantly different). The corresponding relative compositions of arachidonic acid (AA), the major n-6 PUFA, were 9.0 ± 0.8%, 9.2 ± 0.5%, 9.4 ± 0.7%, and 9.4 ± 0.7%, respectively (not significantly different). Significant differences were found in some of the other fatty acids. In particular, we found a 6.5% increase in palmitic acid and 6.2% decrease in oleic acid in patients with MDD compared to controls. With regard to schizophrenia, there was an 8.0% decrease in docosatetraenoic acid compared to controls. In conclusion, the changes in DHA and/or AA seen in orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus were not observed in amygdala. These changes may be specific to particular brain regions.

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