Status and Potential Therapeutic Importance of n–3 Fatty Acids in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Chapter

Neuropsychiatric Table 9.1disorders include both neurodevelopmental disorders and behavioral or psychological difficulties associated with some neurological disorders. Examples of neuropsychiatric disorders are schizophrenia, some forms of bipolar affective disorders, autism, mood disorders, some forms of manic depression, attention-deficit disorder, dementia, tardive dyskinesia, atypical spells, irritability, and organic mental disorder. These disorders are closely associated with the abnormalities in cerebral cortex and limbic system (thalamus, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdale). Although epidemiology studies indicate that genetic factors play an important role in the risk for neuropsychiatric disorders, vulnerability genes have not yet been identified in unequivocal form (Harrison and Owen, 2003). One of the most important characteristic of neuropsychiatric disorders is the impairment of cognitive processing, which refers to signal transduction-mediated processes associated with everyday problem-solving behavior. This includes the ability to learn and store the memory, to retrieve stored memory for further use, and to apply the stored memory to efficiently solve problems (Gallagher, 2004). The impairment of cognitive process may be caused by overexpression or underexpression of certain genes or other unknown factors that result in behavioral symptoms, such as thoughts or actions, delusions, and hallucinations, which are the hallmarks of many neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. In addition, there is substantial evidence indicating that depressive illness is not a mere neurochemical disease, but is linked to gray matter atrophy due to the reduced number/size of neurons and glia in brain. Importantly, neurogenesis, that is, birth/maturation of functional new neurons, continues to occur throughout the lifetime in human adult brains (e.g., hippocampus). The neurogenesis is impaired by multiple not-fully defined factors, such as aging, chronic stress-induced increase of glucocorticoids, and excitotoxicity, accounting for brain atrophy in patients with depressive illness and neurodegenerative diseases (Wada et al., 2005; Farooqui and Horrocks, 2007).

Keywords

Glutathione Dementia Prostaglandin Norepinephrine Glucocorticoid 

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cellular BiochemistryThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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