“The anticancer effects of the omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), EPA and DHA may be due, at least in part, to conversion to their respective endocannabinoid derivatives, eicosapentaenoyl-ethanolamine (EPEA) and docosahexaenoyl-ethanolamine (DHEA).
Here, the effects of EPEA and DHEA and their parent compounds, EPA and DHA, on breast cancer (BC) cell function was examined. EPEA and DHEA exhibited greater anti-cancer effects than EPA and DHA in two BC cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) whilst displaying no effect in non-malignant breast cells (MCF-10a).
Both BC lines expressed CB1/2 receptors that were responsible, at least partly, for the observed anti-proliferative effects of the omega-3 endocannabinoids as determined by receptor antagonism studies. Additionally, major signalling mechanisms elicited by these CB ligands included altered phosphorylation of p38-MAPK, JNK, and ERK proteins.
Both LCPUFAs and their endocannabinoids attenuated the expression of signal proteins in BC cells, albeit to different extents depending on cell type and lipid effectors. These signal proteins are implicated in apoptosis and attenuation of BC cell migration and invasiveness.
Furthermore, only DHA reduced in vitro MDA-MB-231 migration whereas both LCPUFAs and their endocannabinoids significantly inhibited invasiveness. This finding was consistent with reduced integrin β3 expression observed with all treatments and reduced MMP-1 and VEGF with DHA treatment.
Attenuation of cell viability, migration and invasion of malignant cells indicates a potential adjunct nutritional therapeutic use of these LCPUFAs and/or their endocannabinoids in treatment of breast cancer.”