Utilization of precursor essential fatty acids in culture by skin fibroblasts from schizophrenic patients and normal controls

S. P. Mahadik, N. S. Shendarkar, R. E. Scheffer, S. Mukherjee, E. E. Correnti

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30 Scopus citations


Based on the lower levels of long-chain polyunsaturated analogs of essential fatty acids (EPUFAs) in plasma membrane phospholipids of red blood cells, brain and cultured skin fibroblasts from schizophrenic patients, a defective utilization (uptake, conversion to EPUFAs and incorporation into membrane phospholipids) of precursor EFAs has been suggested. Utilization of radiolabeled linoleic (LA, 18:2(n-6)) and alpha-linoleic (ALA, 18:3(n-3)) acids was studied in cultured skin fibroblasts from patients with established schizophrenia and at the first episode of psychosis, and normal controls. Uptake and incorporation of both the EFAs were similar in fibroblasts from both groups of patients studied compared with normal controls. However, although the utilization of LA into arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) was similar in patients and controls, the utilization of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5(n-3)) into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6(n-3)) was significantly lower in first-episode psychotic patients (patients, 96.33 ± 27.16 versus normals, 161.66 ± 26.33 nmoles per mg total protein; P = < 0.001). This data indicates that the level of Δ6- as well as Δ5-desaturase may be normal. However, the levels of Δ4-desaturase may be lower in fibroblasts from schizophrenic patients even at the first episode of psychosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-70
Number of pages6
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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