The effect of individual administration of low doses of highly purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (1 g/kg body weight) on the growth of Morris hepatocarcinoma 3924A transplanted in ACI/T rats was investigated. Both EPA and DHA inhibited growth of the hepatocarcinoma (50% reduction of tumor weight or volume at the 19th day after transplantation for both of the n-3 PUFA groups). EPA treatment reduced the percentage of proliferating tumor cells labeled with BUdR (10-fold), whereas DHA did not. Conversely, DHA supplementation induced a doubling of the number of cells undergoing apoptosis (labeled by TUNEL), whereas EPA treatment was much less effective. Analysis of changes in phospholipid fatty acids in tumor-cell membranes after both treatments with EPA and DHA showed a significant reduction in arachidonic-acid levels. EPA and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), its elongation product, were increased in the phospholipids from EPA-treated animals. DHA and EPA, but not DPA, were increased in the DHA-treated group. It is concluded from the results of the present study that the anti-tumoral effect of EPA is related mainly to its inhibition of cell proliferation, whereas that of DHA corresponds with its induction of apoptosis. The alterations in fatty-acid composition induced by EPA or DHA appear to be factors underlying their differential actions on cell proliferation and apoptosis.
- docosahexaenoic acid
- eicosapentaenoic acid