Research in the journal Molecular Psychiatry indicates that the omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) appears to lead to mood improvements in a subgroup of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and high inflammation levels.

Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, of the Emory University School of Medicine, and colleagues randomized 155 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of major depressive disorder to receive either two capsules containing EPA-enriched mix or a placebo, or four capsules of a DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)-enriched mix or four placebo capsules for eight weeks. EPA, but not DHA, was effective in improving mood in patients with high levels of at least one of four biomarkers for inflammation.

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The results support previous research that suggests infliximab may be effective in some patients with treatment-resistant depression, particularly those with high levels of inflammation. Because this study is a proof-of-concept for the notion that anti-inflammatory treatments could be beneficial in subgroups of patients with MDD, future studies will attempt to replicate these findings and further investigate the impact of other biological measures and clinical characteristics.

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