The ω3-polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexenoic acid (DHA) is known to induce apoptosis of cancer cells. In this study, DHA was shown to reduce viability of pancreatic cancer cells (PANC-1) by inducing DNA fragmentation, activating caspase-3, and increasing the ratio of Bax/Bcl-2. To determine the DHA mechanism of action, the impact of DHA on the activation of the key signaling proteins epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), signal transducer and activator of transcription factor 3 (STAT3), nuclear transcription factor-κB (NF-κB), and IκBα in PANC-1 cells was probed. The observed DHA suppression of NF-κB DNA-binding activity was found to result from reduced IκBα phosphorylation. The observed DHA-induced suppression of STAT3 activation was found to be the result of suppressed EGFR activation, which derives from the inhibitory effect of DHA on the integrity of localization of EGFR to cell membrane lipid rafts. Since the activation of STAT3 and NF-κB mediates the expression of survival genes cyclin D1 and survivin, DHA induced apoptosis by suppressing the STAT3/NF-κB-cyclin D1/survivin axis. These results support the proposal that DHA-induced apoptosis of pancreatic cells occurs via disruption of key pro-cell survival signaling pathways. We suggest that the consumption of DHA-enriched foods could decrease the incidence of pancreatic cancer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics