Omega-3 N-acylethanolamines are endogenously synthesised from omega-3 fatty acids in different human prostate and breast cancer cell lines

I. Brown, K. W. J. Wahle, M. G. Cascio, R. Smoum-Jaouni, R. Mechoulam, R. G. Pertwee, S. D. Heys

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids inhibit breast and prostate cancer cell growth. We previously showed that N-acylethanolamine derivatives of n-3 (n-3-NAE) are endocannabinoids, which regulate cancer cell proliferation. These n-3-NAE are synthesised in certain cells/tissues, after supplementing with fatty acids, however, no one has assessed whether and to what extent this occurs in cancer cells. We determined levels of endogenous n-3-NAEs in hormone sensitive and insensitive prostate and breast cancer cells and subsequent effects on other endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol), before and after supplementing with DHA and EPA fatty acids, using HPLC tandem mass spectrometry. This is the first study reporting that n-3-NAEs are synthesised from their parent n-3 fatty acids in cancer cells, regardless of tumour type, hormone status or the presence of fatty acid amide hydrolase. This could have important implications for the use of n-3 fatty acids as therapeutic agents in breast and prostate cancers expressing cannabinoid receptors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-310
Number of pages6
JournalProstaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • eicosapentaenoic acid
  • cannabinoid receptors
  • anandamide
  • ethanolamides
  • proliferation
  • apoptosis
  • supplementation
  • n-3 pufa
  • prostate cancer
  • endocannabinoid
  • brain
  • growth
  • breast cancer
  • n-acylethanolamine
  • polyunsaturated fatty-acids

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