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Free Radic Biol Med. 2016 Aug;97:342-350. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2016.06.028. Epub 2016 Jun 28.

Knockdown delta-5-desaturase promotes the formation of a novel free radical byproduct from COX-catalyzed ω-6 peroxidation to induce apoptosis and sensitize pancreatic cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Professions, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108, United States.
Cancer Biology Research Center, Sanford Research, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, United States.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Health Professions, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108, United States. Electronic address:


Recent research has demonstrated that colon cancer cell proliferation can be suppressed in the cells that overexpress COX-2 via generating 8-hydroxyoctanoic acid (a free radical byproduct) during dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA, an ω-6 fatty acid) peroxidation from knocking down cellular delta-5-desaturase (D5D, the key enzyme for converting DGLA to the downstream ω-6, arachidonic acid). Here, this novel research finding is extended to pancreatic cancer growth, as COX-2 is also commonly overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. The pancreatic cancer cell line, BxPC-3 (with high COX-2 expression and mutated p53), was used to assess not only the inhibitory effects of the enhanced formation of 8-hydroxyoctanoic acid from cellular COX-2-catalyzed DGLA peroxidation but also its potential synergistic and/or additive effect on current chemotherapy drugs. This work demonstrated that, by inducing DNA damage through inhibition of histone deacetylase, a threshold level of 8-hydroxyoctanoic acid achieved in DGLA-treated and D5D-knockdown BxPC-3 cells subsequently induce cancer cell apoptosis. Furthermore, it was shown that a combination of D5D knockdown along with DGLA treatment could also significantly sensitize BxPC-3 cells to various chemotherapy drugs, likely via a p53-independent pathway through downregulating of anti-apoptotic proteins (e.g., Bcl-2) and activating pro-apoptotic proteins (e.g., caspase 3, -9). This study reinforces the supposition that using commonly overexpressed COX-2 for molecular targeting, a strategy conceptually distinct from the prevailing COX-2 inhibition strategy used in cancer treatment, is an important as well as viable alternative to inhibit cancer cell growth. Based on the COX-2 metabolic cascade, the outcomes presented here could guide the development of a novel ω-6-based dietary care strategy in combination with chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.


8-Hydroxyoctanoic acid, a free radical byproduct formed from dihomo-γ-linolenic acid metabolism; Cyclooxygenase-(COX-) catalyzed free radical peroxidation; Delta-5-desaturase mediated ω-6 conversion; Pancreatic cancer cell lines; Targeted and chemotherapeutic drugs

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