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The diet of most adults is low in fish and, therefore, provides limited quantities of the long-chain, omega-3 fatty acids (LCn-3FAs), eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA, DHA). Since these compounds serve important roles in the brain, we sought to determine if healthy adults with low-LCn-3FA consumption would exhibit improvements in neuropsychological performance and parallel changes in brain morphology following repletion through fish oil supplementation.
In a randomized, controlled trial, 271 mid-life adults (30–54 years of age, 118 men, 153 women) consuming ⩽300 mg/day of LCn-3FAs received 18 weeks of supplementation with fish oil capsules (1400 mg/day of EPA and DHA) or matching placebo. All participants completed a neuropsychological test battery examining four cognitive domains: psychomotor speed, executive function, learning/episodic memory, and fluid intelligence. A subset of 122 underwent neuroimaging before and after supplementation to measure whole-brain and subcortical tissue volumes.
Capsule adherence was over 95%, participant blinding was verified, and red blood cell EPA and DHA levels increased as expected. Supplementation did not affect performance in any of the four cognitive domains. Exploratory analyses revealed that, compared to placebo, fish oil supplementation improved executive function in participants with low-baseline DHA levels. No changes were observed in any indicator of brain morphology.
In healthy mid-life adults reporting low-dietary intake, supplementation with LCn-3FAs in moderate dose for moderate duration did not affect neuropsychological performance or brain morphology. Whether salutary effects occur in individuals with particularly low-DHA exposure requires further study.
The pathophysiology of cognitive impairment in patients with the major depressive disorder (MDD) may involve neuroinflammation mediated by cytokines.
The aim of this study was to examine the serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels, sustained attention, and their association in patients with MDD.
Thirty patients with MDD and 30 healthy controls were enrolled in this case-control study. Sustained attention was measured using the Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVP) task in the Cambridge Neuropsychological Tests Automated Battery. The serum IL-6 levels of all subjects were assessed by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.
There were significant differences in the log10RVP total hits, log10RVP total misses, and log10RVP mean latency between patients with MDD and healthy controls (F = 6.04, p = 0.017; F = 19.77, p < 0.0001; F = 14.42, p < 0.0001, respectively). The serum levels of Log10IL-6 were significantly higher in patients with MDD than in healthy controls (F = 192.27, p < 0.0001). The log10IL-6 levels were also positively correlated with the log10RVP mean latency in patients with MDD (r = 0.45, p = 0.013). A further stepwise multivariate regression analysis indicated that the log10IL-6 levels were significantly associated with the log10RVP mean latency in patients with MDD (β = 0.31, t = 2.41, p = 0.025).
Our data suggested that increased IL-6 levels were associated with the psychopathology of MDD, and that abnormal IL-6 levels were implicated in the impairment of sustained attention in patients with MDD.