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PLoS One. 2010 Jun 30;5(6):e11394. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011394.

Inhibition of stearoylCoA desaturase activity blocks cell cycle progression and induces programmed cell death in lung cancer cells.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences and Rutgers Center for Lipid Research, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States of America.


Lung cancer is the most frequent form of cancer. The survival rate for patients with metastatic lung cancer is approximately 5%, hence alternative therapeutic strategies to treat this disease are critically needed. Recent studies suggest that lipid biosynthetic pathways, particularly fatty acid synthesis and desaturation, are promising molecular targets for cancer therapy. We have previously reported that inhibition of stearoylCoA desaturase-1 (SCD1), the enzyme that produces monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), impairs lung cancer cell proliferation, survival and invasiveness, and dramatically reduces tumor formation in mice. In this report, we show that inhibition of SCD activity in human lung cancer cells with the small molecule SCD inhibitor CVT-11127 reduced lipid synthesis and impaired proliferation by blocking the progression of cell cycle through the G(1)/S boundary and by triggering programmed cell death. These alterations resulting from SCD blockade were fully reversed by either oleic (18:1n-9), palmitoleic acid (16:1n-7) or cis-vaccenic acid (18:1n-7) demonstrating that cis-MUFA are key molecules for cancer cell proliferation. Additionally, co-treatment of cells with CVT-11127 and CP-640186, a specific acetylCoA carboxylase (ACC) inhibitor, did not potentiate the growth inhibitory effect of these compounds, suggesting that inhibition of ACC or SCD1 affects a similar target critical for cell proliferation, likely MUFA, the common fatty acid product in the pathway. This hypothesis was further reinforced by the observation that exogenous oleic acid reverses the anti-growth effect of SCD and ACC inhibitors. Finally, exogenous oleic acid restored the globally decreased levels of cell lipids in cells undergoing a blockade of SCD activity, indicating that active lipid synthesis is required for the fatty acid-mediated restoration of proliferation in SCD1-inhibited cells. Altogether, these observations suggest that SCD1 controls cell cycle progression and apoptosis and, consequently, the overall rate of proliferation in cancer cells through MUFA-mediated activation of lipid synthesis.

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