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J Nutr Biochem. 2013 May;24(5):744-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.03.023. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

N-3 PUFAs have antiproliferative and apoptotic effects on human colorectal cancer stem-like cells in vitro.

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Department of General Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.


The n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to inhibit the induction and progression of many kinds of tumor and to increase the therapeutic effects of numerous chemotherapeutics, but their anticancer effect on cancer stem cells from colorectal cancer has not been described previously. In the present study, we cultivated spheres from the SW620 cell line in serum-free medium and evaluated the features of the spheres by immunofluorescence, cell cycle distribution, resistance to chemotherapeutics and soft agar clone formation, and the spheres were shown to be cancer stem-like cells through tumorigenicity in athymic nude mice. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis of pluripotency genes, such as Sox-2, Oct-4 and Bmi-1, showed that the spheres were generated by dedifferentiation of SW620 cells. The study explored the use of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in spheres, which were treated with two n-3 PUFAs [docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)/eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)]. Treatment of the spheres with DHA and EPA alone or in combination for 72 h led to apoptosis and the progressive loss of viability and DNA fragmentation and an increase in annexin V expression. DHA and EPA can enhance the chemotherapeutic sensitivity effect of 5-Fu and mitomycin C, especially DHA combined with EPA. Taken together, these results provide evidence that n-3 PUFAs exert a direct anticancer action that may contribute to their antiproliferative and proapoptotic effect on the cancer stem-like cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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