Event Abstract

Omega-3 supplementation improves mood and behavior in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder but does not reverse brain atrophy

  • 1 Swinburne University of Technology, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Australia
  • 2 The University of Texas Health Science Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, United States
  • 3 La Trobe University, Department of Psychology, Australia

Background: Magnetic resonance studies have shown a reduction in cortical volume and cortical thickness of children, adolescents and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation enriched in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has been found to have beneficial effects on mood and behavior of children with ADHD. It is however known whether omega-3 supplementation can reverse brain atrophy. The aim of this study was to examine the changes in volume and cortical thickness of frontal regions in adults with ADHD following a 12-week omega-3 supplementation period, and to explore their relationship with the severity of mood symptoms.
Methods: MRI scans were performed before and after omega-3 supplementation on 24 medicated adults with ADHD (M±SD: 25.17±4.9 years) and 30 healthy individuals (M±SD: 24.83±4.82 years). Participants were randomly assigned to either an EPA-rich formulation (EPA:DHA = 4.5:1) or a docosahexaenoic (DHA)-rich formula (EPA:DHA = 1:4) or a placebo treatment containing soybean oil. Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was used. Age, gender and intracranial area were used as covariates in order to control for possible differences in brain size. Follow-up ANOVA and Sidak's post-hoc tests were used to determine differences between ADHD and healthy controls, and across supplementations.
Results: Cortical area reduction was observed in the left frontomarginal, the left cuneus and the left intraparietal/transverse parietal regions of adults with ADHD as compared to healthy volunteers. Volumetric reductions were observed in the third and fifth ventricle and the anterior mid-body of the corpus callosum. No longitudinal change in cortical thickness or volume was observed after omega-3 supplementation. In the ADHD group omega-3 supplementation led to improvements on the Conner’s Adult Rating Scale and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS).
Discussion: This study supports the involvement of the fronto-parietal areas, the cuneus and the corpus callosum in the psychopathology of ADHD. The beneficial effects of omega-3 supplementation on mood may occur via neurotrophic and cardioprotective mechanisms that do not impact on brain structure.


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Keywords: omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, ADHD, MRI, cortical thickness, Volumetric Measures, severity of illness

Conference: ACNS-2013 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, Clayton, Melbourne, Australia, 28 Nov - 1 Dec, 2013.

Presentation Type: Poster

Topic: Other

Citation: Sellick L, Bauer IE, Crewther SG, Pipingas A and Crewther DP (2013). Omega-3 supplementation improves mood and behavior in adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder but does not reverse brain atrophy. Conference Abstract: ACNS-2013 Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2013.212.00004

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Received: 15 Oct 2013; Published Online: 25 Nov 2013.

* Correspondence: Dr. Isabelle E Bauer, The University of Texas Health Science Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Houston, United States, ISABELLE.E.BAUER@UTH.TMC.EDU