Research: LAI and colleagues, Liste

Listed in Issue 19


LAI and colleagues, Lister Research Laboratories, Department of Surgery, University of Edinburgh, Royal Infirmary, UK write that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) inhibits the growth of various pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro. They studied the mechanism of growth inhibition and cytotoxicity of (EPA) upon the pancreatic cancer cell line MIA PaCa-2.



Cells were analysed for cell count, viability, cell cycle distribution and changes in ultrastructure.


In cultures of pancreatic cancer cells supplemented with EPA, there was a time- and dose-dependent decrease in cell count and viability. MIA PaCa-2 cells incubated with EPA showed the presence of sub G1 populations corresponding to the presence of apoptotic cells and the blockade of cell cycle progression in S-phase and G2/M-phase, as shown by flow cytometric DNA analysis. Further confirmation of apoptosis in EPA-supplemented cultures was demonstrated by DNA fragmentation and ultrastructural changes associated with apoptosis. CONCLUSIONS: EPA mediates its effect upon the pancreatic cancer cell line MIA PaCa-2, at least partially, via cell cycle arrest and the induction of apoptosis.



Lai PB et al. Cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells exposed to eicosapentaenoic acid in vitro. Br J Cancer. 74(9): 1375-83. Nov 1996.


The above 2 research studies regarding the cytotoxic effect of omega-3 fatty acids upon cancer cells offer encouraging, indeed in some respects quite dramatic evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can delay cancer growth, reverse its progression and even cause the suicide of cancer cells. If only what happens in vitro can be translated into in vivo action.

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