Table of Contents
Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 796462, 10 pages
Clinical Study

Adult Medication-Free Schizophrenic Patients Exhibit Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Risk

1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH 45219-0516, USA
2Department of Pathology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45237, USA
3Psychiatric Institute, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

Received 20 July 2012; Accepted 17 January 2013

Academic Editor: Kenji Hashimoto

Copyright © 2013 Robert K. McNamara et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Deficiency in long-chain omega-3 (LCn − 3) fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n − 3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n − 3), has been implicated in the pathoetiology of cardiovascular disease, a primary cause of excess premature mortality in patients with schizophrenia (SZ). In the present study, we determined erythrocyte EPA + DHA levels in adult medication-free patients SZ ( ) and age-matched healthy controls ( ). Erythrocyte EPA + DHA composition exhibited by SZ patients (3.5%) was significantly lower than healthy controls (4.5%, −22%, ). The majority of SZ patients (72%) exhibited EPA+DHA levels ≤4.0% compared with 37% of controls (Chi-square, ). In contrast, the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4 ) (+9%, ) and the AA:EPA + DHA ratio (+28%, ) were significantly greater in SZ patients. Linoleic acid (18:2 ) was significantly lower (−12%, ) and the erythrocyte 20:3/18:2 ratio (an index of delta6-desaturase activity) was significantly elevated in SZ patients. Compared with same-gender controls, EPA + DHA composition was significantly lower in male (−19%, ) but not female (−13%, ) SZ patients, whereas the 20:3/18:2 ratio was significantly elevated in both male (+22%, ) and female (+22%, ) SZ patients. These results suggest that the majority of SZ patients exhibit low LCn − 3 fatty acid levels which may place them at increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.