Suppression of tumor cell growth both in nude mice and in culture by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: Mediation through cyclooxygenase-independent pathways

Mary D. Boudreau, Kyung Hee Sohn, Sang Hoon Rhee, Sam W. Lee, Jay D. Hunt, Daniel H. Hwang

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Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Puffiest), as compared with n-6 Puffiest, suppress cellular production of prostaglandins and tumor cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. However, the mechanism by which n-3 Puffiest suppress tumor growth is not understood. We investigated whether the suppression of tumor cell growth by dietary n-3 Puffiest is mediated through inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX). A colon tumor cell line, HCT-116, that does not express COX was stably transfected with the constitutively expressed COX-1 or the inducible COX-2 cDNA using a retroviral transfection and infection system. Athymic nude mice transplanted with the cells expressing enzymatically active COX were fed isocaloric diets containing either safflower oil or fish oil for 2 weeks before the start of the experiment and for an additional 21 days after transplantation. Both tumor volume and tumor burden (tumor volume/body weight) were significantly reduced in mice fed the fish oil diet as compared with safflower oil-fed mice. This reduction occurred even in control mice that received injections with cells infected with the retroviral vector without COX-1 or COX-2 cDNA. The growth of tumor cells expressing COX was not different from the growth of those transfected with the vector alone in the nude mice and in soft agar. N-3 Puffiest, as compared with linoleic acid, also inhibited the growth of these cells in culture. This growth inhibition by n-3 Puffiest was not affected by COX-1 or COX-2 overexpression. Contrary to general belief, these results indicate that the suppression of tumor growth by dietary n-3 Puffiest is mediated through COX-independent pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1386-1391
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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