Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of ethyl-eicosapentanoate in the treatment of bipolar depression and rapid cycling bipolar disorder

Paul E. Keck*, Jim Mintz, Susan L. McElroy, Marlene P. Freeman, Trisha Suppes Mark A. Frye, Lori L. Altshuler, Ralph Kupka, Willem A. Nolen, Gabriele S. Leverich, Kirk D. Denicoff, Heinz Grunze, Naihua Duan, Robert M. Post

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

203 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The results of pilot trials suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may have efficacy in the treatment of mood symptoms in bipolar disorder.

Methods: We conducted a 4-month, randomized, placebo-controlled, adjunctive trial of ethyl-eicosapentanoate (EPA) 6 g/day in the treatment of bipolar depression and rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Subjects were receiving mood-stabilizing medications at therapeutic doses or plasma concentrations. The measures of efficacy were early study discontinuation, changes from baseline in depressive symptoms (Inventory for Depressive Symptomology total score) and in manic symptoms (Young Mania Rating Scale total score), and manic exacerbations ("switches"). We also measured side effects and bleeding time, a biomarker of drug action.

Results: Overall, there were no significant differences on any outcome measure between the EPA and placebo groups.

Conclusions: This study did not find overall evidence of efficacy for adjunctive treatment with EPA 6 g/day in outpatients with bipolar depression or rapid cycling bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1022
Number of pages3
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1-Nov-2006
EventConference on Pediatric Bipolar Disorder -
Duration: 16-Apr-2005 → …


  • bipolar disorder
  • ethyl-eicosapenantoate
  • omega-31
  • fatty acid
  • clinical trial
  • ACID

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