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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1996 Aug 14;225(2):441-7.

gamma-Linolenic acid supplementation can affect cancer cell proliferation via modification of fatty acid composition.

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Department of Biochemistry G. Moruzzi, University of Bologna, Italy.


We examined the effect of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supplementation on the growth and fatty acid composition of three human tumor cell lines (the neuroblastoma CHP-212, the tubal carcinoma TG, and the colon carcinoma SW-620), in order to evaluate the relationship between GLA-induced tumor cell death and the distribution of fatty acids in tumor cells. At the highest GLA concentrations (10 and 20 micrograms/ml), the DNA synthesis was completely abolished; at 5 micrograms/ml GLA only SW-620 cells did not proliferate, while CHP-212 and TG cells showed a residual [3H]-thymidine incorporation. GLA levels were very low in cells grown in control medium; GLA supplementation caused a significant incorporation of GLA itself in all the cell lines at each concentration. In TG and CHP-212 cells, GLA was metabolized, although to a different extent, to dihomo-gamma linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. SW-620 cells neither elongated nor desaturated the incorporated GLA. The highest cytostatic effect was reached when GLA was not transformed into its metabolites, suggesting that the GLA toxicity to tumor cells is not dependent on metabolites but is due to GLA itself.

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