Adolescents with or at ultra-high risk for bipolar disorder exhibit erythrocyte docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid deficits: a candidate prodromal risk biomarker.Early Interv Psychiatry. 2016 Jun; 10(3):203-11.EI
Mood disorders are associated with low levels of the long-chain omega-3 (LCn-3) fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This study investigated LCn-3 fatty acid biostatus in youth with or at varying risk for developing mania to assess its utility as a prodromal risk biomarker.
Erythrocyte fatty acid composition was determined in healthy adolescents (n = 28, HC), asymptomatic adolescents with a biological parent with bipolar I disorder (n = 30; 'high risk', HR), adolescents with a biological parent with bipolar I disorder and major depressive disorder, or depressive disorder not otherwise specified (n = 36; 'ultra-high risk', UHR), and first-episode adolescent bipolar manic patients (n = 35, BP).
Group differences were observed for DHA (P ≤ 0.0001) and EPA (P = 0.03). Compared with HC, erythrocyte EPA + DHA ('omega-3 index') was significantly lower in BP (-24%, P ≤ 0.0001) and UHR (-19%, P = 0.0006) groups, and there was a trend in the HR group (-11%, P = 0.06). Compared with HC (61%), a greater percentage of HR (77%, P = 0.02), UHR (80%, P = 0.005) and BP (97%, P = 0.001) subjects exhibited EPA + DHA levels of ≤4.0%. Among all subjects (n = 130), EPA + DHA was inversely correlated with manic (r = -0.29, P = 0.0008) and depressive (r = -0.28, P = 0.003) symptom severity. The AA/EPA + DHA ratio was significantly greater in BP (+22%, P = 0.0002) and UHR (+16%, P = 0.001) groups.
Low EPA + DHA levels coincide with the initial onset of mania, and increasing risk for developing bipolar disorder is associated with graded erythrocyte EPA + DHA deficits. Low erythrocyte EPA + DHA biostatus may represent a promising prodromal risk biomarker warranting additional evaluation in future prospective studies.