Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids in alcohol dependence treatment - a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study

Marina N Fogaça1, Ruth F Santos-Galduróz2, Jaqueline K Eserian1 and José Carlos F Galduróz3*

Author Affiliations

1 Psychobiology Department, Federal University of São Paulo, Edifício de Ciências Biomédicas, Rua Botucatu 862 - 1° Andar, São Paulo, Brasil

2 Laboratory of Physical Activity and Aging of Rio Claro Biosciences Institute - Universidade Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho, Rio Claro, São Paulo, Brasil and Centro de Matemática, Computação e Cognição da UFABC, Santo Andrá, São Paulo, Brasil

3 Psychobiology Department, Federal University of São Paulo, Edifício de Ciências Biomédicas, Rua Botucatu 862 - 1° Andar, São Paulo, Brasil

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BMC Clinical Pharmacology 2011, 11:10  doi:10.1186/1472-6904-11-10

Published: 26 July 2011

Abstract

Background

The lipid fraction of cell membranes consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS), and chronic alcohol use alters it, modifying its permeability, what might contribute for the dysfunctional metabolism observed in the central nervous system of alcohol dependent patients. Therefore, the supplementation of PUFAS can be an important adjuvant in alcoholism treatment.

Methods

This was a placebo controlled, double blind, randomized study where, 80 alcohol dependent patients, according to DSM-IV, were allocated in four groups with 20 patient each: 'PUFAS', 'Naltrexone', 'Naltrexone + PUFAS' and 'Placebo'. Those substances were administered for 90 days and scales were applied to assess patients craving (OCDS) and alcohol dependence severity (SADD) at baseline and after 90 days. PUFAS serum levels were assessed before and after treatment by high performance liquid chromatography assay.

Results

Forty-three patients completed the trial. There was a significant improvement over time on drinking days, SADD and OCDS scores in all groups (p < 0.001). The drinking days comparison between groups did not show statistical significant difference. The same effect was observed for compulsion (OCDS) and severity of dependence scale (SADD). The serum levels of PUFAS increased in all the supplemented groups after treatment, although not significantly.

Conclusions

The oral supplementation of 2 g PUFAS for 3 months did not significantly differ from placebo in reducing the amount of alcohol ingestion, or OCDS and SADD scores in a group of alcohol dependent patient.

Trial registration

NCT01211769