Anticancer Actions of Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Current State and Future Perspectives

Author(s): Martina Wendel, Axel R. Heller

Journal Name: Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
(Formerly Current Medicinal Chemistry - Anti-Cancer Agents)

Volume 9 , Issue 4 , 2009

Become EABM
Become Reviewer


Omega-3 fatty acids (ω3-FA) were shown to attenuate growth and induce apoptosis in a variety of human cancer cell lines derived from colonic, pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer. In addition, recent findings indicate that ω3-FA act synergistically with chemotherapeutic agents and may also be used to enhance tumour radiosensitivity. The mechanisms underlying the anti-tumour effects of ω3-FA are complex. Incorporation of ω3-FA in biological membranes alters the profile of lipid mediators generated during inflammatory reactions. Furthermore, ω3-FA act as ligands of nuclear peroxisome proliferator- activated receptors that attenuate transcription of NF-κB-dependent genes. Thereby, the cyclooxygenase-2/prostaglandin E2- dependent production of pro-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor and levels of anti-apoptotic bcl-2 and bcl-XL are decreased. Eicosanoid-independent pro-apoptotic pathways include enhanced lipid peroxidation, modulation of mitochondrial calcium homeostasis and enhanced production of reactive oxygen species as well as activation of p53. This review article will give a comprehensive overview over the pleiotropic actions of ω3-FA and will discuss the potential of ω3-FA and derivatives like conjugated eicosapentaenoic acid as important nutritional adjuvant therapeutics in the management of various human cancer diseases and the impact of nutritional ω-3 FA on cancer prevention.

Keywords: Cancer, omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, cyclooxygenase, eicosanoids, lipid peroxidation, apoptosis

Rights & PermissionsPrintExport Cite as

Article Details

Year: 2009
Page: [457 - 470]
Pages: 14
DOI: 10.2174/1871520610909040457
Price: $65

Article Metrics

PDF: 47