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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Repurposing Opportunities for Cognition and Biobehavioral Disturbances in MCI and Dementia

[ Vol. 14 , Issue. 3 ]


Christian Knöchel, Martin Voss, Florian Gruter, Gilberto S. Alves, Silke Matura, Beate Sepanski, Michael Stablein, Dominik Kraft, David Prvulovic, Andre F. Carvalho, Andreas Reif and Viola Oertel-Knochel   Pages 240 - 254 ( 15 )


Neurodegenerative diseases may directly affect memory performance, thus leading to functional impairments. An increasing body of evidence suggests an association between dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and memory functioning in animal models as well as in human studies. Recent evidence supports a potential beneficial role of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on psychopathological and cognitive symptoms, beside their established positive effects on cardiovascular health.

Objective: We summarize relevant and recent evidence from epidemiological, interventional and experimental studies investigating dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and emphazing mechanisms of memory disorders, with a focus on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. Omega-3 fatty acid could represent an affordable and accessible adjunctive treatment option to improve cognitive and non-cognitive function with a focus on MCI or dementia. However, apart from its translational promise, which is based on mechanistic models and evidence from animal studies, evidence for clinical benefits in humans is lacking.

Method: To follow this research question, a search through electronic databases for the following search terms to identify relevant studies was conducted: ‘omega 3 fatty acids’, ‘cognition’, ‘memory’, ´Alzheimer´s Disease ´, ´dementia´, ´MCI`. Studies were included if they presented original data and were published in English between 1990 and 2015.

Results: To our the best of our knowledge, there are only 8 interventional studies that investigated the effects of n3-PUFAs in dementia patients, while 6 studies were conducted in healthy individuals, which in combination show equivocal results.

Conclusion: This verifies the need for larger and (more) well designed clinical trials.


Omega 3 fatty acids, psychiatric disorders, cognition, Alzheimer's dementia, MCI.


Laboratory of Neuroimaging, Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy; Heinrich-Hoffmann-Str. 10, Goethe-University, 60528 Frankfurt

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