Degradation of specific polyunsaturated fatty acids in red blood cells stored at -20 degrees C proceeds faster in patients with schizophrenia when compared with healthy controls

Helen Catherine Fox, B. M. Ross, D. Horrobin, I. Glen, D. Tocher, David Malcolm St Clair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Deficits in red blood cell (RBC) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been extensively reported in schizophrenia although reports are inconsistent. A possible explanation for this inconsistency is varying storage conditions of blood samples prior to analysis, especially freezer storage temperature. We conducted a prospective investigation of fatty acid degradation rates in RBCs from healthy control subjects when samples from each individual were stored at both -20degreesC or -70degreesC. Differences were detected between storage conditions. A second prospective study was conducted to investigate the effect of differential storage conditions on RBC membrane fatty acids from schizophrenic patients. We found that storage at -20degreesC was associated with reduced levels of PUFAs. Comparison of decay rates suggest that schizophrenics decay approximately twice as rapidly as controls. Furthermore, this phenomenon appears to be specific for the longer chain PUFAs suggesting that an enzymatic process may be responsible, e.g. elevated phospholipase A(2) activity, as opposed to simple chemical oxidation. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages6
JournalProstaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003



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