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J Surg Res. 2000 Aug;92(2):201-5.

omega-3 fatty acids decrease endothelial adhesion of human colorectal carcinoma cells.

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Department of Surgery, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease both the initiation and promotion of colon carcinogenesis although their effect on hepatic metastasis formation is less well understood. Since adhesion of human colorectal carcinoma (HCRC) cells to hepatic endothelial cells is an important step in the metastatic cascade, the effect of membrane omega-3 fatty acid alterations on endothelial cell adhesion was studied.


CX-1 cells, a moderately differentiated HCRC cell line known to produce hepatic metastases in an athymic mouse intrasplenic injection model, were used. Cells were grown in omega-3 fatty acid-enriched medium and membrane-free fatty acid modifications confirmed with gas chromatography. Both human umbilical vein and hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells were used in the binding assays. Adhesion assays were performed in a standard fashion using (51)Cr-labeled cells to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-stimulated endothelial cell monolayers. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed for sialyl-Lewis(x), the receptor involved in endothelial adhesion on the surface of control and fatty acid-modified cells.


Gas chromatographic analysis confirmed membrane fatty acid modification of CX-1 cells by growth in docosahexanoic acid (omega-3) (4.761 nmol/10(6) cells vs 0.057 nmol/10(6) cells for controls). Binding of CX-1 to both human umbilical vein and hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells decreased from 38.4 +/- 0.44 to 11.58 +/- 0.87% (P < 0.01). Immunocytochemical analysis showed a decrease in sialyl-Lewis(x) expression with omega-3 treatment.


These data indicate that omega-3 fatty acids may also be protective against the formation of hepatic metastases. The mechanism for this may be decreased endothelial cell adhesion which in turn may be due to decreased expression of the endothelial receptor sialyl-Lewis(x).

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