AbstractPolyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have a selective cytotoxic/cytostatic effect on a number of tumor cell lines in culture. Although this process may be enhanced by the addition of iron there is a minimum level of PUFA necessary for potentiation of cell death. Vitamin E blocks PUFA cytotoxicity when added up to 5 days after fatty acid administration. Levels of thio-barbiturate reactive material (TBARM) in the medium rise in parallel with cell death. However, they are not affected by small alterations in temperature or oxygen tension. Incubating cells with PUFA causes marked alterations in the fatty acid patterns of both neutral and phospholipid fractions. Membrane fluidity is increased and the activity of membrane-bound receptors may be influenced directly or through the actions of eicosanoids derived from the exogenous fatty acid. PUFA may be an effective way of influencing tumor growth and a safe approach for the management of human cancer.
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