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Open Access Short report

Correlation between n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids consumption and BDNF peripheral levels in adolescents

Charles Francisco Ferreira1236*, Juliana Rombaldi Bernardi3, Vera Lúcia Bosa3, Ilaine Schuch3, Marcelo Zubaran Goldani3, Flávio Kapczinski5, Giovanni Abrahão Salum4, Carla Dalmaz12, Gisele Gus Manfro14 and Patrícia Pelufo Silveira1

Author Affiliations

1 Post Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Institute of Basic Sciences/Health, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

2 Laboratory of Stress Neurobiology, Biochemistry Department, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

3 Center for Child and Adolescent Health Studies (NESCA), Translational Pediatrics Laboratory (LPT), Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA), Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

4 Anxiety Disorders Outpatient Program for Children and Adolescents, National Institute of Developmental Psychiatry for Children and Adolescents (INPD, CNPq), Graduate Program in Medical Sciences: Psychiatry, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA), Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

5 Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry, Psychiatry Department, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA), Schoool of Medicine, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

6 Rua Ramiro Barcelos 2600 Anexo, Departamento de Bioquímica, UFRGS. CEP 90035–000, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:44  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-44

Published: 5 March 2014

Abstract

Background

Although several studies have reported an association between mental disorders and serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), this association is still poorly understood. The study of factors associated with both BDNF levels and mental disorders, such as n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), may help to elucidate the mechanisms mediating the relationship between the two variables. Therefore, the present study aimed to evaluate whether the intake n-3 PUFAs correlates with serum levels of BDNF.

Findings

This study involved 137 adolescents drawn from a community sample, including a group with high levels of anxiety, assessed using the Screen for Children and Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders. Blood samples were collected and serum BDNF levels were measured. n-3 PUFAs were estimated using a food frequency questionnaire for adolescents. Correlations were performed to assess the association between n-3 PUFAs intake and BDNF levels. Effects of potential confounders (total fat consumption, age, gender and anxiety) were examined using linear regression models. There was a direct correlation between n-3 PUFAs consumption and serum BDNF levels, which remained significant even after accounting for potential confounders.

Conclusions

We were able to detect a correlation between n-3 PUFAs intake and peripheral BDNF levels. Our study was limited by its small sample size, and our external validity may be restricted by the oversampling of anxious adolescents. Our findings may help determine the nature of the association between mental disorders and serum levels of BDNF. However, more studies are needed to elucidate the possible mechanisms by which n-3 PUFAs intake affects BDNF levels, and how this may lead to an increased vulnerability to psychiatric disorders.

Keywords:
Anxiety; Children; Adolescents; SCARED; BDNF