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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2000;18(5):371-7.

Promotion of colon cancer metastases in rat liver by fish oil diet is not due to reduced stroma formation.

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Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department of Cell Biology and Histology, The Netherlands.


Recently, it was demonstrated that dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) induce 10-fold more metastases in number and 1000-fold in volume in an animal model of colon cancer metastasis in rat liver. It was observed that tumors of rats on a fish oil diet lacked peritumoral stroma unlike tumors in livers of rats on a low fat diet or a diet containing omega-6 PUFAs. In the present study, only one-third of the tumors in livers of rats on omega-3 PUFA diet contained peritumoral stroma, whereas peritumoral stroma was present in 87% of the tumors in livers of rats on low fat diet. To explain these findings, we tested the hypothesis that fish oil exerts a direct inhibiting effect on the formation of extracellular matrix in tumor stroma as a consequence of blocking transformation of fat storing cells into myofibroblasts. It was found with immunohistochemical analysis of desmin as marker for fat storing cells and alpha-smooth muscle actin as marker for myofibroblasts that numbers of myofibroblasts were higher in tumors containing intratumoral stroma only than in tumors containing both peritumoral and intratumoral stroma. As most of the tumors in fish oil-treated rats contained intratumoral stroma only, this suggests that transformation of fat storing cells into myofibroblasts was highest in tumor stroma of fish oil-treated rats. Therefore, it is unlikely that the lack of stroma around tumors in fish oil-treated rats is due to inhibition of transformation of fat storing cells into myofibroblasts, but lack of peritumoral stroma is rather a consequence of rapid development of tumors in livers of fish oil-treated rats.

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