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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2014, Article ID 313570, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/313570
Review Article

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms

1Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, Section of Pharmacology and Biochemistry, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy
2Department of “G.F. Ingrassia”, Section of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania, Via S. Sofia 85, 95123 Catania, Italy
3Department of Educational Sciences, University of Catania, Via Teatro Greco 84, 95124 Catania, Italy
4IRCCS Associazione Oasi Maria S.S.-Institute for Research on Mental Retardation and Brain Aging, Via Conte Ruggiero 73, Enna, 94018 Troina, Italy

Received 7 June 2013; Accepted 7 February 2014; Published 18 March 2014

Academic Editor: Ryuichi Morishita

Copyright © 2014 Giuseppe Grosso 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.

Abstract

The changing of omega-6/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the food supply of Western societies occurred over the last 150 years is thought to promote the pathogenesis of many inflammatory-related diseases, including depressive disorders. Several epidemiological studies reported a significant inverse correlation between intake of oily fish and depression or bipolar disorders. Studies conducted specifically on the association between omega-3 intake and depression reported contrasting results, suggesting that the preventive role of omega-3 PUFA may depend also on other factors, such as overall diet quality and the social environment. Accordingly, tertiary prevention with omega-3 PUFA supplement in depressed patients has reached greater effectiveness during the last recent years, although definitive statements on their use in depression therapy cannot be yet freely asserted. Among the biological properties of omega-3 PUFA, their anti-inflammatory effects and their important role on the structural changing of the brain should be taken into account to better understand the possible pathway through which they can be effective both in preventing or treating depression. However, the problem of how to correct the inadequate supply of omega-3 PUFA in the Westernized countries’ diet is a priority in order to set food and health policies and also dietary recommendations for individuals and population groups.