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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Inhibit Ovarian Cancer Growth

Last Updated: April 22, 2009.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and plant oils inhibit the growth of some ovarian cancer cells, where growth inhibition correlates with changes in the transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) signaling pathway, according to a study in the May issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

WEDNESDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and plant oils inhibit the growth of some ovarian cancer cells, where growth inhibition correlates with changes in the transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) signaling pathway, according to a study in the May issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Following up on earlier results showing that omega-3 fatty acids inhibited the growth of ovarian cancer cells, Arun Sharma, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues investigated whether this effect was due to changes in the TGF-β1 signaling pathway.

The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid treatment led to increased levels of TGF-β1 in three cell lines with intact p53, a tumor suppressor protein, while there was no significant change in two cell lines with mutant p53 or no p53. They note that their previous results had shown that cell lines with intact p53 were more sensitive to the inhibitory effect of omega-3 fatty acids. The levels of Smad-3 and p21, part of the TGF-β1 signaling pathway, also rose after treatment in two of the cell lines with intact p53 but not in the cell lines with mutant p53 or no p53.

"In conclusion, this study demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acids have variable antiproliferative effects on a select population of ovarian cancer cell lines," Sharma and colleagues write. "Under certain conditions, the antiproliferative effects of omega-3 fatty acids seem to be mediated by the TGF-β signaling pathway."

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