Effects of oxidative stress on fatty acid- and one-carbon-metabolism in psychiatric and cardiovascular disease comorbidity

J. Assies, R. J. T. Mocking, A. Lok, H. G. Ruhe, F. Pouwer, A. H. Schene

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in severe psychiatric disorders (depression, schizophrenia). Here, we provide evidence of how the effects of oxidative stress on fatty acid (FA) and one‐carbon (1‐C) cycle metabolism, which may initially represent adaptive responses, might underlie comorbidity between CVD and psychiatric disorders.
We conducted a literature search and integrated data in a narrative review.
Oxidative stress, mainly generated in mitochondria, is implicated in both psychiatric and cardiovascular pathophysiology. Oxidative stress affects the intrinsically linked FA and 1‐C cycle metabolism: FAs decrease in chain length and unsaturation (particularly omega‐3 polyunsaturated FAs), and lipid peroxidation products increase; the 1‐C cycle shifts from the methylation to transsulfuration pathway (lower folate and higher homocysteine and antioxidant glutathione). Interestingly, corresponding alterations were reported in psychiatric disorders and CVD. Potential mechanisms through which FA and 1‐C cycle metabolism may be involved in brain (neurocognition, mood regulation) and cardiovascular system functioning (inflammation, thrombosis) include membrane peroxidizability and fluidity, eicosanoid synthesis, neuroprotection and epigenetics.
While oxidative‐stress‐induced alterations in FA and 1‐C metabolism may initially enhance oxidative stress resistance, persisting chronically, they may cause damage possibly underlying (co‐occurrence of) psychiatric disorders and CVD. This might have implications for research into diagnosis and (preventive) treatment of (CVD in) psychiatric patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-180
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • cardiovascular disease
  • fatty acids
  • homocysteine
  • oxidative stress
  • psychiatry


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