Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood of children and adolescents with juvenile bipolar disorder

Edward H. Clayton, Tanya L. Hanstock, Stephen J. Hirneth, Colin J. Kable, Manohar L. Garg, Philip L. Hazell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Reduced long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA), including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been reported in adult patients suffering from depression and bipolar disorder (BD). LCn-3PUFA status has not previously been examined in children and adolescents with BD compared with healthy controls. Fifteen children and adolescents (9-18 years, M ± SD = 14.4 ± 3.48) diagnosed with juvenile bipolar disorder (JBD) and fifteen healthy age and sex-matched controls were assessed for dietary intake and fasting red blood cell (RBC) membrane concentrations of LCn-3PUFA. Fatty acid concentrations were compared between participants diagnosed with JBD and controls after controlling for dietary intake. RBC membrane concentrations of EPA and DHA were not significantly lower in participants diagnosed with JBD compared with healthy controls (M ± sem EPA = 3.37 ± 0.26 vs. 3.69 ± 0.27 μg/mL, P = 0.458; M ± sem DHA = 22.08 ± 2.23 vs. 24.61 ± 2.38 μg/mL, P = 0.528) after controlling for intake. Red blood cell DHA was negatively (r = -0.55; P = 0.044) related to clinician ratings of depression. Although lower RBC concentrations of LCn-3PUFA were explained by lower intakes in the current study, previous evidence has linked reduced LCn-3PUFA to the aetiology of BD. As RBC DHA was also negatively related to symptoms of depression, a randomised placebo-controlled study examining supplementation with LCn-3PUFA as an adjunct to standard pharmacotherapy appears warranted in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1038
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Blood
  • Children
  • Omega-3
  • RBC


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