what is called “Good fatty acids” are essential for human health and are preferred by those trying to eat healthy. Among the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is important for brain function, vision and control of inflammatory phenomena.
In addition to these virtues, DHA has also been associated with reducing the incidence of cancer. The way it works is the subject of a breakthrough discovery by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain), who recently described the biochemical mechanisms that enable DHA and other fatty acids. related to slowing the development of tumors This is a major breakthrough that has just been published in a prestigious journal. cell metabolism.
The Key to Discovery: Interdisciplinary
In 2016, Olivier Feron’s UCLouvain team, which specializes in oncology, It was discovered that cells in an acidic environment within tumors replace glucose with fat as an energy source to multiply. In collaboration with UCLouvain’s Cyril Corbet, Professor Feron showed in 2020 that the same cells are the most aggressive. and gain the ability to leave the original tumor in place to create metastases. Meanwhile, Yvan Larondelle is a professor in the UCLouvain School of Biological Engineering whose team is developing an improved source of dietary fat. Offer Professor Feron to combine their skills in a research project. led by PhD candidate Emeline Dierge to assess the behavior of tumor cells in the presence of various fatty acids
A 3-D tumor that dissipates in a few days thanks to the well-known action of omega-3 (DHA, found mainly in fish), is a unique discovery by the University of Louvain. The hyperacidized tumor cells consume DHA on their own, but they cannot store it properly and are truly toxic. The result? They die. Credit: Copyright UCLouvain.
With the support of Fondation Louvain, the Belgian Cancer Foundation and the Télévie telethon, the team quickly identified that these acidic tumor cells had the opposite response. It depends on the fatty acids they absorb. within a few weeks The results were impressive and surprising. “We soon found that some fatty acids activate tumor cells while others kill them,” the researchers explain. DHA is truly toxic.
The toxin acts on tumor cells through a phenomenon known as ferroptosis. This is a type of cell death linked to the peroxidation of certain fatty acids. The higher the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the cells, the more The greater the risk of oxidation, the greater is usually the acidic compartment within the tumor. Cells store these fatty acids in the fat droplets. This is a type of binder in which fatty acids are protected from oxidation, but when there is a lot of DHA, tumor cells overflow and are unable to store DHA, which oxidizes and causes cell death. With the use of fat burning inhibitors that prevent the formation of fat droplets. The researchers were able to observe that this phenomenon was further amplified. which confirms the identified mechanisms and opens the door to the possibility of a combination therapy.
For their study, the UCLouvain researchers used a 3-D tumor cell culture system called spheroids. In the presence of DHA, the spheroids first grow and then explode. The team also fed a DHA-rich diet to tumor-bearing mice. The result: tumor development was significantly slower compared to that in mice fed a normal diet.
This UCLouvain study shows the value of DHA in fighting cancer. “For adults,” said the UCLouvain researchers, “the recommended intake of at least 250 mg of DHA per day is recommended, but studies have shown that our diet averages only 50 to 100 mg per day on average. which is lower than the minimum recommended dosage.”
Cited from: 11 June 2021, cell metabolism.