An investigation in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics provides some new data on the potential application of some natural substances in depression. Endocannabinoids (ECs) are one type of bioactive endogenous neuroinflammatory mediator derived from polyunsaturated fatty acids, which may regulate the emotional processes. This study assessed the effect of ω–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on endocannabinoid levels, which may be the novel targets for the ω–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids'antidepressive effects.
In a 12-week double-blind, nonplacebo, randomized controlled trial, 88 major depressive disorder (MDD) participants were randomly assigned to receive eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 3.0 g/day), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 1.4 g/day), or a combination of EPA (1.5 g/d) and DHA (0.7 g/day). Eighty-five participants completed the trial, and their clinical remission and plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids-derived endocannabinoidlevels (pmol/mL) were measured.
Results showed that the cumulative rates of clinical remission were significantly higher in the EPA and EPA + DHA groups than the DHA group.EPA and EPA + DHA treatments increased the eicosapentaenoyl-ethanolamide (EPEA) levels compared to DHA treatment, while EPA + DHA treatment increased the docosahexaenoyl-ethanolamide levels more than EPA treatment. More important, plasma EPEA levels were positively correlated with rates of clinical remission.
These findings showed that treatments enriched with EPA increased plasma EPEA levels, which, in turn, was positively associated with clinical remission. The Authors concluded thatlevels of plasma EPEA play a potential novel endogenous therapeutic target in MDD.
Source: Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Full bibliographic information
Clinical Efficacy and Biological Regulations of ω–3 PUFA-Derived Endocannabinoids in Major Depressive Disorder. Psychother Psychosom 2019;88:215–224