The role of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in cognitive function

Chih Chiang Chiu, Robert J. Stewart, Shih Yi Huang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Recently, there has been an increase in research into the relationship between long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) and cognitive function although the topic remains controversial. In epidemiological studies, fatty fish or n-3 PUFAs consumption has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline or dementia. In addition, higher proportion of total n-3 PUFAs or higher ratio of n-3 to n-6 PUFAs on erythrocyte membranes have been found to be associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. Furthermore, in some animal models, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6n-3) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C22:5n-3) administration have been found to improve learning ability and reduce Aβ amyloid deposition. However, findings from clinical trials of n-3 PUFAs supplementation to improve cognition in older people have been inconsistent. Some sub-group analyses have suggested that people with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment may benefit most. Contradictory results may be clarified by better controlling possible confounders, more consistency in interventions and outcome measurements, and longer follow-up. Larger but possibly more focused trials should be considered along with efforts to develop better biomarkers for intervention response.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLatest Findings of Omega-3 Long Chain-Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: From Molecular Mechanisms to New Applications in Health and Diseases
PublisherBentham Science Publishers Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781608053568
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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