Fatty acids can kill cancer cells


The researchers demonstrated that a fatty acid called dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) can kill human cancer cells.

The researchers demonstrated that a fatty acid called dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) can kill human cancer cells.


The research was published in Development Cell on July 10 and found that DGLA can induce ferroptosis in animal models and actual human cancer cells. Iron death is an iron-dependent cell death discovered in recent years. It is closely related to many disease processes and has become the focus of disease research.


Jennifer Watts, an associate professor at Washington State University and the corresponding author of the paper, said the discovery has many implications, including a step towards cancer treatment.


Watts said: “If you can accurately deliver DGLA to cancer cells, it may promote iron death and cause tumor cell death. In addition, just knowing that this fat will cause iron death may also affect our kidney disease and neurodegeneration. Views of diseases such as sexual transformation, in these cases, we want to prevent this type of cell death.”


DGLA is a kind of polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is very small in human body and less from diet. Compared with other fatty acids (such as fatty acids in fish oil), DGLA research is relatively insufficient.


Scientists used Caenorhabditis elegans as an animal model to study dietary fat including DGLA. Watts’ research team found that feeding DGLA-rich bacteria to the nematodes killed all germ cells and stem cells that make them. There are many signs of iron death in the way of cell death.


Marcos Perez, a doctoral student and the first author of the paper, said: “Many mechanisms we have seen in C. elegans are consistent with the characteristics of iron death in mammalian systems, including the presence of redox active iron and the inability to repair oxidized lipids, which is like a molecule Executioner.”


To see whether these results can be transformed into human cells, Watts and Perez collaborated with Scott Dixon, who has been studying iron death and its potential to fight cancer for years.


Based on the information they obtained from the nematode study, the researchers showed that DGLA can induce iron death in human cancer cells. They also discovered an interaction with another fatty acid, this fatty acid is called ether fat, which has a protective effect on DGLA. When they removed ether fat, the cells died faster in the presence of DGLA.


In addition to this new knowledge, this study also shows that nematodes can be a useful animal research model for studying iron death. Prior to this, iron death was a field that mainly relied on cell culture.


To further carry out this research, Watts’ research team recently received a US$1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study what makes nematode germ cells so sensitive to DGLA and explore mitochondria (organelles involved in burning fat and regulating metabolism ) The role in iron death.


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