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In Current developments in nutrition

Background : Nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs) are known to have inflammatory effects. The inflammatory hypothesis of depression suggests that omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids might be negatively and positively correlated with depression, respectively.

Objective : An exploratory study was conducted to determine the association between dietary free fatty acids and depressive symptoms in cancer patients and caregivers.

Methods : Associations between depression and the NEFA pool were investigated in 56 cancer patients and 23 caregivers using a combination of nonparametric tests and regularized regression. Plasma NEFAs were measured using thin layer and gas chromatography with flame ionization detection. Depression was characterized both as a continuous severity score using the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (GRID Ham-D), and as a categorical diagnosis of major depression by structured clinical interview.

Results : Initial hypotheses regarding the relation between depression and omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids were not well supported. However, elaidic acid, a trans-unsaturated fatty acid found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, was found to be negatively correlated with continuous depression scores in cancer patients. No significant associations were found in caregivers.

Conclusions : An unexpected negative association between elaidic acid and depression was identified, supporting recent literature on the role of G protein-coupled receptors in depression. Further research is needed to confirm this result and to evaluate the potential role of G protein agonists as therapeutic agents for depression in cancer patients.

McCusker Megan R, Bazinet Richard P, Metherel Adam H, Klein Roberta Yael, Kundra Arjun, Haibe-Kains Benjamin, Li Madeline


GPR120, GPR40, IL-1ra, LASSO, cytokines, elaidic acid, machine learning, nonesterified fatty acid