Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Low Fatty Acid Levels, Dementia Associated in Large Study

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Low Fatty Acid Levels, Dementia Associated in Large Study

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Higher intake of n-3 fatty acids may have a protective effect against cognitive impairment, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.

In a study of almost 1,000 people aged 65 and older, those with dementia had significantly lower plasma levels of n-3 fatty acids, said Antonio Cherubini, M.D., of the Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Perugia, Italy.

The n-3 fatty acids are an important component of the neuronal membrane, influencing membrane fluidity and all the related functions, such as signal transduction and enzyme function. Fish--particularly fatty fish, such as mackerel and albacore tuna--are the primary source of n-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Cherubini presented data from the Aging in Chianti (InCHIANTI) study, a population-based trial conducted between 1998 and 2000 in the Chianti region of Italy.

The 935 volunteers were categorized as having normal cognition (725 subjects), cognitive impairment without meeting criteria for dementia (153 subjects), or dementia (57 subjects). Cognitive function was screened using the Mini-Mental State Examination. The subjects with age- and education-unadjusted scores lower than 26 on the examination underwent more detailed tests.

The diagnosis of dementia was made according to DSM-IV criteria. Plasma fatty acid levels were determined using gas chromatography.

Subjects with dementia had the lowest n-3 fatty acid plasma concentrations--as a percentage of total fatty acid plasma concentrations in mg/L--with a mean of 2. …

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