Omega – 3 fatty acids in schizophrenia – part I: importance in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia

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Despite the increasing offer of antipsychotic drugs, the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy in schizophrenia is still unsatisfactory. Drug resistance, lack of complete remission and the increasing risk of metabolic complications are the reasons why the new forms of therapy in schizophrenia among which unsaturated essential fatty acids omega 3 (EFAs ω-3) affecting the proper functioning of nervous system, are mentioned, are being looked for.

Fatty acids represent 50-60% of the dry weight of the brain and diet is one of the factors that influence the value of each of the fat fractions in the neuron membranes. Patients with schizophrenia tend to have irregular nutritional status concerning essential fatty acids ω-3, which might result from metabolic disorders or irregular consumption of fatty acids.

Apart from being a review of the literature on this subject, this very paper characterizes essential fatty acids ω-3, their metabolism, the most important sources in the diet and the opinions of experts in the field about the recommended intake. It pays attention to the role of essential fatty acids in both the structure and functioning of the central nervous system is, as well as their role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, with particular emphasis on the membrane concept by David Horrobin. The assessment of the errors in consumption and metabolism of essential fatty acids are described as well.

The evidence was found both in epidemiological and modeling studies. It supports the participation of EFAs in etiopathogenesis and pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Further research is needed, both observational and interventional, as to the role of essential fatty acids ω-3 in the functioning of the CNS as well as the development and course of schizophrenia.

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