Personalised medicine in child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Focus on omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common childhood disorder with a prevalence rate of 5-10%. There have been many theories proposed to explain ADHD, and one of them focuses on the deficiency of essential fatty acids (EFA), particularly omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between EFA deficiency severity and ADHD symptoms, and a negative association between blood PUFAs levels and ADHD symptoms. Moreover, clinical studies have shown a promising effect of n-3 PUFAs in the treatment of both clinical and cognitive symptoms in children with ADHD. In addition, with the more relatively safe and tolerable properties of n-3 PUFAs when comparing with the standard pharmacotherapy, n-3 PUFAs may be a potential treatment option for children with ADHD. Of note, the association between n-3 PUFAs deficiency and ADHD has been suggested to involve several biological systems, including inflammation, dysregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and an imbalanced gut-microbiota axis (GBA). Thus, the biomarkers from these biological systems may serve as possible treatment response predictors of n-3 PUFAs in children with ADHD.