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Nutr Neurosci. 2016 May;19(4):145-55. doi: 10.1179/1476830514Y.0000000135. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Effects of fish oil supplementation on prefrontal metabolite concentrations in adolescents with major depressive disorder: a preliminary 1H MRS study.

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a Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Center for Imaging Research, Division of Bipolar Disorders Research , University of Cincinnati College of Medicine , Cincinnati , OH , USA.
b Department of Pathology , University of Cincinnati , Cincinnati , OH , USA.



To use proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H MRS) to investigate the effects of fish oil (FO) supplementation on cortical metabolite concentrations in adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD).


Metabolite concentrations were determined by (1)H MRS in the anterior cingulate cortex and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of adolescents with MDD before and following 10-week open-label supplementation with low (2.4 g/day, n = 7) or high (16.2 g/day, n = 7) dose FO. Depressive symptom severity scores and erythrocyte fatty acid levels were also determined.


Baseline erythrocyte eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) composition was positively correlated, and arachidonic acid (AA) and the AA/EPA ratio were inversely correlated, with choline (Cho) concentrations in the right DLPFC. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) composition was inversely correlated with myo-inositol (mI) concentrations in the left DLPFC. Erythrocyte EPA and DHA composition increased, and AA decreased, significantly following low-dose and high-dose FO supplementation. In the intent-to-treat sample, depressive symptom severity scores decreased significantly in the high-dose group (-40%, P < 0.0001) and there was a trend in the low-dose group (-20%, P = 0.06). There were no significant baseline-endpoint changes in metabolite levels in each voxel. In the low-dose group there were changes with large effect sizes, including a decrease in mI in the left DLPFC (-12%, P = 0.18, d = 0.8) and increases in glutamate + glutamine (Glx) (+12%, P = 0.19, d = 0.8) and Cho (+15%, P = 0.08, d = 1.2) in the right DLPFC. In the high-dose group, there was a trend for increases in Cho in the right DLPFC (+10%, P = 0.09, d = 1.2).


These preliminary data suggest that increasing the LCn-3 fatty acid status of adolescent MDD patients is associated with subtle changes in Glx, mI, and Cho concentrations in the DLPFC that warrant further evaluation in a larger controlled trial.


Adolescent; Anterior cingulated cortex; Docosahexaenoic acid; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Major depressive disorder; Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

R.J., T.R., P.T., W.-J.C., W.A.W., and J.A.W have no conflicts to declare.

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