Research: IIGO and colleagues, Chem

Listed in Issue 22


IIGO and colleagues, Chemotherapy Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo Japan studied a series of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and a series of n-6 PUFAs for their anti-tumour and antimetastatic effects in a subcutaneous implanted highly metastatic colon carcinoma model.




EPA and DHA significantly inhibited tumour growth at the implantation site and significantly decreased the numbers of lung metastatic nodules. Treatment with arachidonic acid tended to reduce colonisation and high doses of fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid increased numbers of lung metastatic nodules. DHA and EPA only inhibited lung colonisations when administered together with tumour cells, suggesting that their incorporation is essential for their tumour reduction and antimetastatic effects. Tumour cells pretreated with fatty acids, particularly DHA, also showed a low potential for lung colony formation when transferred to new hosts. Therefore DHA treatment causes marked antimetastatic activity associated with pronounced changes in fatty acid component of tumour cells.


: These results indicate that DHA uptake into tumour cells results in altered tumour cell membrane characteristics and a decreased ability to metastasise.


Iigo M et al. Inhibitory effects of docosahexaenoic acid on colon carcinoma 26 metastasis to the lung. Br J Cancer 75(5): 650-5. 1997.


This research with EPA and DHA is very exciting, showing that these fatty acids inhibit lung colonisation and metastasis. I look forward to future applications of this research.

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