The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 354–360 | Cite as

Associations between Proportion of Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids, Depressive Symptoms and Major Depressive Disorder. Cross-Sectional Analyses from the AGES Reykjavik Study

  • C. M. Imai
  • T. I. Halldorsson
  • T. Aspelund
  • G. Eiriksdottir
  • L. J. Launer
  • I. Thorsdottir
  • T. B. Harris
  • V. Gudnason
  • I. A. Brouwer
  • Ingibjorg GunnarsdottirEmail author



Deficits in n-3 fatty acids may be associated with depression. However, data are scarce from older adults who are at greater risk of poor dietary intake and of developing depression.


To investigate proportion of plasma phospholipid fatty acids with respect to depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder in community dwelling older adults.


Cross-sectional analyses of 1571 participants in the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES)-Reykjavik Study aged 67-93 years. Depressive symptoms were measured using the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15). Major depressive disorder was assessed according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI).


Depressive symptoms were observed in 195 (12.4%) subjects and there were 27 (1.7%) cases of major depressive disorder. Participants with depressive symptoms were less educated, more likely to be smokers, less physically active and consumed cod liver oil less frequently. Difference in GDS-15 scores by tertiles of n-3 fatty acid proportion was not significant. Proportion of long chain n-3 fatty acids (Eicosapentaenoic- + Docosahexaenoic acid) were inversely related to major depressive disorder, (tertile 2 vs. tertile 1) OR: 0.31 (95% CI: 0.11, 0.86); tertile 3 vs. tertile 1, OR: 0.45 (95% CI: 0.17, 1.21).


In our cross sectional analyses low proportions of long chain n-3 fatty acids in plasma phospholipids appear to be associated with increased risk of major depressive disorder. However, the results from this study warrant further investigation in prospective setting with sufficiently long follow-up.

Key words

n-3 fatty acids depression docosahexaenoic acid eicosapentaenoic acid elderly 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Imai
    • 1
  • T. I. Halldorsson
    • 1
    • 5
  • T. Aspelund
    • 2
    • 4
  • G. Eiriksdottir
    • 2
  • L. J. Launer
    • 3
  • I. Thorsdottir
    • 1
  • T. B. Harris
    • 3
  • V. Gudnason
    • 2
    • 4
  • I. A. Brouwer
    • 6
  • Ingibjorg Gunnarsdottir
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Unit for Nutrition Research, Landspitali-The National University Hospital of Iceland and Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition, School of Health SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Icelandic Heart AssociationKopavogurIceland
  3. 3.National Institute on Aging, Laboratory of Epidemiology, and Population SciencesBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine, School of Health SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  5. 5.Centre for Fetal Programming, Department of Epidemiology ResearchStatens Serum InstitutCopenhagen SDenmark
  6. 6.Department of Health Sciences and the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, Faculty of Earth and Life SciencesVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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