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J Toxicol Sci. 2013;38(2):305-8.

Induction of the fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) gene by Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol in human breast cancer cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Daiichi University of Pharmacy, Fukuoka, Japan.


To investigate gene(s) being regulated by ∆(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆(9)-THC), we performed DNA microarray analysis of human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells, which are poorly differentiated breast cancer cells, treated with ∆(9)-THC for 48 hr at an IC50 concentration of approximately 25 µM. Among the highly up-regulated genes (> 10-fold) observed, fatty acid 2-hydroxylase (FA2H) was significantly induced (17.8-fold). Although the physiological role of FA2H has not yet been fully understood, FA2H has been shown to modulate cell differentiation. The results of Oil Red O staining after ∆(9)-THC exposure showed the distribution of lipid droplets (a sign of the differentiated phenotype) in cells. Taken together, the results obtained here indicate that FA2H is a novel ∆(9)-THC-regulated gene, and that ∆(9)-THC induces differentiation signal(s) in poorly differentiated MDA-MB-231 cells.

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