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ω-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids to Prevent PsychosisThe Importance of Replication Studies

Kane JM, Correll CU (2017) JAMA Psychiatry. 74(1) 11-12. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2945 

Web URL: View this article on JAMA Psychiatry here


Prevention of psychosis is a key goal, given the severity and functional impact of psychotic disorders. Research has established reliable criteria to identify people considered at clinical or ultrahigh risk for psychosis.

Naturalistic studies yield conversion rates to psychosis of 17.7% at 6 months, 21.7% at 12 months, and up to 31.5% over 3 years. However, conversion rates to psychosis have declined in recent years, challenging prevention trials. Nevertheless, with data pooled, efficacy has been established in randomized clinical trials for cognitive behavioral therapy, antipsychotics and, long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs).

Although ω-3 PUFA treatment is attractive for prevention from a pathophysiologic perspective and because of its benign adverse effect profile, preventive efficacy of ω-3 PUFAs for psychosis had been demonstrated in only 1 single-site study (N = 81). 

Only 3 months of ω-3 PUFA treatment led to a significant reduction in transition to psychosis both at the end of active treatment and 9 months after discontinuation (ω-3 PUFA, 4.9% vs placebo, 27.5%), translating into a number needed to treat (NNT) of 4. This finding persisted in the naturalistic, long-term follow-up (median duration, 6.7 years), clearly calling for replication.


This editorial provides a brief review and commentary on:

Access to the full text of this editorial is available only to licensed users of JAMA Psychiatry, although the full first page can be viewed online here.