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Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Dec 17;3:e335. doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.110.

A randomized placebo-controlled trial of an omega-3 fatty acid and vitamins E+C in schizophrenia.

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1] Center for Psychopharmacology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway [2] Division of Psychiatry, Oslo University Hospital, Aker, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway.
Center for Psychopharmacology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Nutritional Laboratory, Department of Medical Biochemistry, Oslo University Hospital, Aker, Oslo, Norway.


Membrane lipid metabolism and redox regulation may be disturbed in schizophrenia. We examined the clinical effect of adding an omega-3 fatty acid and/or vitamins E+C to antipsychotics. It was hypothesized that lower baseline levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) would predict more benefit from the add-on treatment. The trial had a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 2 × 2 factorial design. Patients aged 18-39 years with schizophrenia or related psychoses were consecutively included at admission to psychiatric departments in Norway. They received active or placebo ethyl-eicosapentaenoate (EPA) 2 g day⁻¹ and active or placebo vitamin E 364 mg day⁻¹+vitamin C 1000 mg day⁻¹ (vitamins) for 16 weeks. The main outcome measures were Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total and subscales scores, analyzed by linear mixed models. Ninety-nine patients were included. At baseline, erythrocyte PUFA were measured in 97 subjects. Given separately, EPA and vitamins increased drop-out rates, whereas when combined they did not differ from placebo. In low PUFA patients, EPA alone impaired the course of total PANSS (Cohen's d=0.29; P=0.03) and psychotic symptoms (d=0.40; P=0.003), especially persecutory delusions (d=0.48; P=0.0004). Vitamins alone impaired the course of psychotic symptoms (d= 0.37; P=0.005), especially persecutory delusions (d=0.47; P=0.0005). Adding vitamins to EPA neutralized the detrimental effect on psychosis (interaction d=0.31; P=0.02). In high PUFA patients, there were no significant effects of trial drugs on PANSS scales. In conclusion, given separately during an acute episode, EPA and vitamins E+C induce psychotic symptoms in patients with low levels of PUFA. Combined, these agents seem safe.

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