BACKGROUND: Among an independent group of subjects selected for their history of violent, impulsive behaviors and nonviolent control subjects, we attempted to replicate the finding that plasma docosahexaenoic acid concentrations were negatively correlated with cerebrospinal fluid 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (CSF 5-HIAA) concentrations.

METHODS: CSF 5-HIAA and homovanillic acid (HVA), fasting total cholesterol, and plasma fatty acid concentrations were examined in violent and nonviolent subjects matched for their severity of alcohol dependence.

RESULTS: Violent subjects had significantly higher lifetime violence and hostility ratings and lower concentrations of CSF 5-HIAA than nonviolent subjects. Plasma docosahexaenoic acid was negatively correlated with CSF 5-HIAA only among violent subjects.

CONCLUSIONS: This observational study suggests that dietary essential fatty acids may change neurotransmitter concentrations. Prospective dietary intervention trials will be required to determine if increasing dietary intake of docosahexaenoic acid will increase or decrease either CSF 5-HIAA concentrations or impulsive and violent behaviors.