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

Abstract

Background

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.

Objective

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

Methods

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).

Results

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).

Conclusion

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.

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Correspondence to Ingibjorg Gunnarsdottir.

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Imai, C.M., Halldorsson, T.I., Aspelund, T. et al. Associations between Proportion of Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids, Depressive Symptoms and Major Depressive Disorder. Cross-Sectional Analyses from the AGES Reykjavik Study. J Nutr Health Aging 22, 354–360 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-017-0929-9

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Key words

  • n-3 fatty acids
  • depression
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • eicosapentaenoic acid
  • elderly