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Personalized polyunsaturated fatty acids as a potential adjunctive treatment for anorexia nervosa


Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a complex psychiatric disorder with high morbidity and mortality rates. While many individuals make full recoveries, up to a third of patients develop a chronic, treatment-resistant form of the illness that leads to a premature death in 15-20% of those affected. There have been few advances in treatment, both in terms of psychological or pharmacologic treatment over the last 30 years. Food aversion is commonly cited by patients with AN as a barrier to normalizing eating and weight. Our group has a keen interest in examining factors that might allow this to be addressed, thus improving treatment outcomes through personalized dietary plans or nutritional supplementation related to underlying genetic status. We demonstrated that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)-derived bioactive lipids (eicosanoids) are implicated in not only the risk of AN, but also with its comorbid psychopathology. Of interest, the differential postprandial omega 6-derived eicosanoid shift observed in AN highlights the possibility that the metabolism of PUFAs is an important mechanism underlying the profound food version, contributing to pathological food restriction in AN. A concise knowledge of the relationships among PUFAs, eicosanoids, and AN clinical course and psychopathology could be the key to developing personalized nutritional rehabilitative treatments for those suffering from AN. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the literature on PUFAs in AN. We also selectively reviewed the clinical benefits PUFA treatments exert in other psychiatric diseases, on weight and appetite regulation, and for resolution of inflammation, all of which are relevant in the disease course and outcome of AN. We propose that personalized PUFA formulation be developed and tested as a novel adjunctive treatment for patients with AN. We hypothesize that with personalized PUFA formulation, food aversion and anxiety about eating will decrease while mood, dietary behavior, and weight restoration will improve in AN, leading to improvements in the overall treatment outcome.

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