Correlation between n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids consumption and BDNF peripheral levels in adolescents Journal Articles uri icon

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  • 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.


  • Ferreira, Charles Francisco
  • Bernardi, Juliana Rombaldi
  • Bosa, Vera Lúcia
  • Schuch, Ilaine
  • Goldani, Marcelo Zubaran
  • Kapczinski, Flavio
  • Salum, Giovanni Abrahão
  • Dalmaz, Carla
  • Manfro, Gisele Gus
  • Silveira, Patrícia Pelufo

publication date

  • December 2014