The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 988–993 | Cite as

Cognitive changes with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in non-demented older adults with low omega-3 index

  • Claudie HooperEmail author
  • P. de Souto Barreto
  • N. Coley
  • C. Cantet
  • M. Cesari
  • S. Andrieu
  • B. Vellas
  • MAPT/DSA Study Group



To investigate the changes in specific domains of cognitive function in older adults reporting subjective memory complaints with a low omega-3 index receiving omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) supplementation or placebo.


This is a secondary exploratory analysis of the Multidomain Alzheimer Preventive Trial (MAPT) using subjects randomized to the n-3 PUFA supplementation or placebo group.


French community dwellers aged 70 or over reporting subjective memory complaints, but free from clinical dementia.


A subgroup of MAPT subjects in the lowest quartile of omega-3 index distribution with baseline values ≤ 4.83 % (n = 183).


The n-3 PUFA supplementation group consumed a daily dose of DHA (800 mg) and EPA (a maximum amount of 225 mg) for 3 years. The placebo group received identical capsules comprising liquid paraffin oil.


Linear mixed-model repeated-measures analyses were used including baseline, 6, 12, 24 and 36-month follow-up data to assess between-group differences in the change in eight cognitive tests over 36 months.


There was less decline on the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT) in the n-3 PUFA supplementation group compared to placebo (p = 0.009; between group mean difference over 36 months, 2.3; 95% CI, 0.6,4.0). No significant differences for any of the other cognitive tests were found, including other tests of executive functioning, although, numerically all results were in favour of the n-3 PUFA supplementation.


We found some evidence that n-3 PUFAs might be beneficial for the maintenance of executive functioning in older adults at risk of dementia with low omega-3 index, but this exploratory finding requires further confirmation. A larger specifically designed randomised controlled trial could be merited.

Key words

Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids executive functioning cognition 



Alzheimer’s disease


apolipoprotein E

β- amyloid


clinical dementia rating


clinical dementia rating sum of boxes


Controlled Oral Word Association Test


docosahexaenoic acid


Digit Symbol Substitution Test


eicosapentaenoic acid


Fatty acid methyl esters


Free and Cued Selective Reminding test


polyunsaturated fatty acids


Multidomain Alzheimer Preventive Trial


mild cognitive impairment


Mini Mental State Examination


omega 3


randomised controlled trial


Trail Making Test


Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France SAS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudie Hooper
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. de Souto Barreto
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. Coley
    • 2
    • 3
  • C. Cantet
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Cesari
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Andrieu
    • 2
    • 3
  • B. Vellas
    • 1
    • 2
  • MAPT/DSA Study Group
  1. 1.Gérontopôle, Department of GeriatricsCHU Toulouse, Purpan University HospitalToulouseFrance
  2. 2.UMR1027Université de Toulouse, UPS, INSERMToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthCHU ToulouseToulouseFrance

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