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Nutr Cancer. 2015;67(6):1001-9. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2015.1053496. Epub 2015 Jul 2.

α-Linolenic Acid Reduces Growth of Both Triple Negative and Luminal Breast Cancer Cells in High and Low Estrogen Environments.

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a Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto , Toronto , Ontario , Canada.


Flaxseed, rich in α-linolenic acid (ALA), is a complementary breast cancer (BC) therapy; however ALA effectiveness and mechanism are unclear. Variation in cellular expression of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and estrogen (E2) levels may alter ALA effectiveness. This research determined the effect of ALA on growth, apoptosis, and phospholipid fatty acids of 4 BC cell lines with varying receptor expression ± E2. MCF-7 (ER+/PR+/HER2-), BT-474 (ER+/PR+/HER2+), MDA-MB-231 (ER-/PR-/HER2-) and MDA-MB-468 (ER-/PR-/HER2-) cells were incubated with ALA (50-200 μM) ± 1 nM E2 for 48-72 h. ALA dose-dependently reduced growth, measured by trypan blue exclusion, of all cells (55-80% with 75 μM), and this effect was not altered by E2. ALA (75 μM)+E2 induced apoptosis, measured by flow cytometry (up to 111.2%). Decreased growth and increased apoptosis is related to increased cell phospholipid % ALA (up to 25.1%), measured by gas chromatography. ALA is shown for the first time to reduce cell growth and induce apoptosis regardless of receptor expression and E2 environment, by incorporating into BC phospholipids, supporting the use of ALA and ALA-rich foods as a safe, inexpensive complementary therapy for a wide range of BC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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