Comparison of erythrocyte omega-3 index, fatty acids and molecular phospholipid species in people at ultra-high risk of developing psychosis and healthy people
© 2019 People classified as ultra-high risk (UHR) of developing psychosis have reduced cellular membrane omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). We aimed to compare omega-3 index, fatty acids and molecular phospholipid species from erythrocytes of people with UHR (n = 285) with age-matched healthy controls (n = 120) assessed by mass spectrometry. Lower proportions of PUFA were observed in the UHR group compared to healthy controls; specifically, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was 29.3% lower, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was 27.2% lower, arachidonic acid (AA) was 15.8% lower and the omega-3 index was 26.9% lower. The AA to EPA ratio was higher in the UHR group compared to the healthy group. Smoking status had no significant effect on PUFA levels in healthy or the UHR groups. BMI was associated with PUFA levels in the UHR group only and the statistical model only explains 2% of the variance of the PUFA levels. The proportion of nervonic acid was 64.4% higher in the UHR group compared to healthy controls. At a lipid class level, the UHR group had 16% higher concentrations of sphingomyelin (SM) and 46% lower concentrations phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) compared to healthy group. Of the 49 individual molecular phospholipids, twenty-seven phospholipid species were lower in the UHR group. In conclusion, there are clear differences in the proportions of erythrocyte fatty acids and phospholipids between UHR and healthy controls and UHR had higher concentrations of SM and lower concentrations of PE. These differences may represent a promising prodromal risk biomarker in the UHR population to aid clinical diagnosis.