Supplementation with a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (vitamins E and C) improves the outcome of schizophrenia

Meena Arvindakshan, Madhav Ghate, Prabhakar K Ranjekar, Denise R Evans, Sahebarao P Mahadik
Schizophrenia Research 2003 August 1, 62 (3): 195-204
Reduced levels of membrane essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPUFAs), namely, arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHAs), and their association with psychopathology have been consistently reported in both chronic-medicated schizophrenic patients as well as in never-medicated patients soon after the first episode of psychosis. Past supplementation studies with either omega-6 or omega-3 or both EPUFAs generally in chronic-medicated-older patients have reported varying degrees of therapeutic effects, and have suggested that supplementation with primarily omega-3 EPUFAs (EPA>DHA) may be preferable. We report the supplementation with a mixture of EPA/DHA (180:120 mg) and antioxidants (vitamin E/C, 400 IU:500 mg) orally morning and evening to schizophrenic patients (N=33) for 4 months. The red blood cell (RBC) membrane fatty acid levels, plasma lipid peroxides and clinical measures were carried out by established procedures at pretreatment, posttreatment and after 4 months of postsupplementation period to determine the stability of treatment effects within patients. Levels of fatty acids and lipid peroxides were compared with their levels in normal controls (NC) (N=45).Posttreatment levels of RBC EPUFAs were significantly higher than pretreatment levels as well as levels in normal controls without any significant increase in plasma peroxides. Concomitantly, there was significant reduction in psychopathology based on reduction in individual total scores for brief psychiatric rating scale (BPRS) and positive and negative syndrome scale (PANSS), general psychopathology-PANSS and increase in Henrich's Quality of Life (QOL) Scale. The EPUFA levels returned to pretreatment levels after 4 months of supplementation washout. However, the clinical improvement was significantly retained. Future studies need be done in placebo-controlled trials and also with a comparison group supplemented with fatty acids alone in a larger number of patients, both chronic as well as never medicated, and for a longer duration of treatment while the dietary intake is monitored. This may establish the EPUFA supplementation a very effective treatment to improve the outcome for an extended period of time.

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