The apoptosis-inducing effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on benign and malignant breast cells in vitro

R A Hawkins, Kathryn Sangster, Mark Arends

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Three breast cell lines, the malignant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 and the immortalized but non-malignant HBL-100 lines, were growth-inhibited in vitro by the polyunsaturated fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid at concentrations of 5–20 μM, inhibition being mild for the two malignant lines but strong for the immortalized HBL-100 line. Eicosapentaenoic acid (50 μM) induced moderate lipid peroxidation and extensive loss of viability in the HBL-100 cells, high levels of lipid peroxidation with slight loss of viability in MDA-MB-231 cells and neither peroxidation nor loss of viability in MCF-7 cells. In HBL-100 cells, all 7 polyunsaturated fatty acids tested inhibited growth: cis-parinaric, arachidonic, γ-linolenic and docosahexacnoic acids were the most potent, being effective (IC50) at <1 μM, whereas the mono-unsaturated fatty acids, erucic acid and oleic acid either had no effect, or stimulated growth. Growth-inhibition by polyunsaturated fatty acids was due to induction of cell death with characteristic morphological features of apoptosis.

These findings suggest another possible reason why polyunsaturated fatty acids such as a γ-linolenic acid are effective in benign disease including mastalgia; they may inhibit the growth of some proliferating epithelial cells via the induction of apoptosis and this raises the prospect that other polyunsaturated fatty acids may be even more effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-20
JournalThe Breast
Volume8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999

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