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Cancer J. 2004 May-Jun;10(3):190-200.

Eicosapentaenoic acid induces Fas-mediated apoptosis through a p53-dependent pathway in hepatoma cells.

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Department of Surgery, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has been demonstrated to induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in various cancer cell lines in vitro. In this study, we investigated the anti-tumor effects of EPA on hepatoma cell lines and the mechanisms responsible for induced cell death. Three hepatoma cell lines tested had different p53 status: HepG2 with a wild-type p53; Hep3B, of which the endogenous p53 was deleted; and Huh7 with its p53 mutated. MTT assay showed reduced viability of HepG2 cells after exposure to EPA, and the cytotoxicity of EPA was time and dose dependent. However, EPA had no effect on the viability and cell death in the two other hepatoma cell lines containing dysfunctional p53. DNA fragmentation analysis and TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase [TdT]-mediated deoxyuridine diphosphate [dUTP] nick end labeling) staining showed a typical pattern of DNA laddering and DNA breaks staining, respectively, in wild-type p53-containing HepG2 cells after EPA treatment. We also observed that EPA induced transient nuclear accumulation of P53 protein that subsequently up-regulated the expression of Fas messenger RNA and protein in HepG2 cells. In contrast, these findings were not observed in Hep3B and Huh7 cells exposed to EPA. Most notably, EPA-induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells could be reduced almost completely by treatment with FasL antisense oligonucleotides. We conclude that EPA inhibits the growth of HepG2 cells and mediates its effect, at least in part, via the Fas-mediated apoptosis. It appears that the effects of EPA on hepatoma cells are determined by the status of p53 and that wild-type p53 is a prerequisite for the anticancer effect of EPA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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