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01 December 2004

Can perinatal supplementation of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids prevents schizophrenia in adult life?

Undurti N. Das

Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(12): HY33-37 :: ID: 13218

Abstract

It is suggested that perinatal supplementation of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) especially; eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids prevent schizophrenia in the adult. I propose that schizophrenia could be a low-grade systemic inflammatory disease with its origins in the perinatal period, probably triggered by maternal infection in a genetically susceptible individual that leads to excess production of pro-inflammatory cytokines both in the mother and the fetus. These cytokines, in turn, induce damage to the fetal neurons leading to the adult onset of schizophrenia. I suggest that maternal infection perse interferes with the metabolism of essential fatty acids (EFAs) resulting in deficiency of LCPUFAs that are known to have neuroprotective action. Alternatively, decreased formation of LCPUFAs as a result of decreased activity of D6 and D5 desaturases (due to prematurity) can result in neuronal damage due to the absence/decrease in the neuroprotective LCPUFAs. This is supported by the observation that LCPUFAs suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective actions. Furthermore, LCPUFAs are essential for brain growth and development. If this hypothesis is true, it implies that perinatal supplementation of appropriate amounts of LCPUFAs in the right combination is helpful in the prevention of schizophrenia in adult life.

Keywords: Dietary Fats, Unsaturated - therapeutic use, Docosahexaenoic Acids - administration & dosage, Eicosapentaenoic Acid - administration & dosage, Eicosapentaenoic Acid - therapeutic use, Fatty Acids, Essential - metabolism, Fatty Acids, Unsaturated - therapeutic use, Cytokines - metabolism, Dietary Fats, Unsaturated - therapeutic use, Dietary Supplements, Docosahexaenoic Acids - therapeutic use, Eicosapentaenoic Acid - therapeutic use, Fatty Acids, Essential - metabolism, Fatty Acids, Unsaturated - therapeutic use, Infection - immunology, Inflammation - immunology, Schizophrenia - prevention & control

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