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Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Essential Fatty Acid Status as a Predictor of Future Suicide Risk

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By ME Sublette, et al. • • October 4, 2006

Journal: American Journal of Psychiatry, 2006 Jun;163(6):1100-2. Authors and Affiliation: Sublette, ME, Hibbeln JR, Galfalvy H, Oquendo MA, Mann JJ. Department of Neuroscience, NY State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, Unit 42, 1051 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10032, USA. PMID: 16741213

Objective: Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, and elevated ratios of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids are associated with major depression and, possibly, suicidal behavior. Predicting risk of future suicidal behaviors by essential fatty acid status merits examination.

Method: Plasma polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in phospholipids were measured in 33 medication-free depressed subjects monitored for suicide attempt over a 2-year period. Survival analysis examined the association of plasma polyunsaturated fatty acid status and pathological outcome.

Results: Seven subjects attempted suicide on follow-up. A lower docosahexaenoic acid percentage of total plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids and a higher omega-6/omega-3 ratio predicted suicide attempt.

Conclusions: A low docosahexaenoic acid percentage and low omega-3 proportions of lipid profile predicted risk of suicidal behavior among depressed patients over the 2-year period. If confirmed, this finding would have implications for the neurobiology of suicide and reduction of suicide risk.

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