Tumor acidosis promotes disease progression through a stimulation of fatty acid metabolism in cancer cells. Instead of blocking the use of fatty acids (FA) by acidic cancer cells, we examined whether excess uptake of specific FA could lead to antitumor effects. We found that n-3 but also remarkably n-6 polyunsaturated FA (PUFA) selectively induced ferroptosis in cancer cells under ambient acidosis. Upon exceeding buffering capacity of triglyceride storage into lipid droplets, n-3 and n-6 PUFA peroxidation led to cytotoxic effects in proportion to the number of double bonds and even more so in the presence of diacylglycerol acyltransferase inhibitors (DGATi). Finally, an n-3 long-chain PUFA-rich diet significantly delayed mouse tumor growth when compared with a monounsaturated FA-rich diet, an effect further accentuated by administration of DGATi or ferroptosis inducers. These data point out dietary PUFA as a selective adjuvant antitumor modality that may efficiently complement pharmacological approaches.
See full paper in Cell Metabolism by E. Dierge and O. Feron