Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid (FA) consumption is thought to improve depressive symptoms. However, current evidence is limited, and whether this association exists among Puerto Ricans, a population burdened by depression, remains uncertain.
We examined the association between ω-3 FA biomarkers and depressive symptoms as well as the potential influence of oxidative stress.
Baseline and longitudinal analyses were conducted in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study (n= 787; participants aged 57 ± 0.52 y, 73% women). Urinary 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) concentration, a measure of oxidative stress, and erythrocyte FA composition were collected at baseline. We calculated the omega-3 index as the sum of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, expressed as a percentage of total FAs. Baseline and 2-y depressive symptoms were characterized by using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D). Statistical analyses included linear and logistic regression.
Urinary 8-OHdG concentration tended to modify the relation between the erythrocyte omega-3 index and baseline CES-D score (P-interaction = 0.10). In stratified analyses, the omega-3 index was inversely associated with CES-D score (β = -1.74, SE = 0.88;P= 0.02) among those in the top quartile of 8-OHdG concentration but not among those in the lower quartiles. The relation between the omega-3 index and CES-D at 2 y was more clearly modified by 8-OHdG concentration (P-interaction = 0.04), where the omega-3 index was inversely associated with CES-D at 2 y, adjusted for baseline (β = -1.66, SE = 0.66;P= 0.02), only among those with elevated 8-OHdG concentrations. Among individuals not taking antidepressant medications and in the top tertile of urinary 8-OHdG concentration, the omega-3 index was associated with significantly lower odds of a CES-D score ≥16 at baseline (OR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.53, 0.96) but not at 2 y (OR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.60, 1.15).
An inverse association between the omega-3 index and depressive symptoms was observed among participants with elevated oxidative stress biomarkers. These data suggest that oxidative stress status may identify those who might benefit from ω-3 FA consumption to improve depressive symptoms.

PMID: 26936135

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