Conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) regulate the expression of key apoptotic genes in human breast cancer cells

B. Majumder, K. W. Wahle, Susan Emma Moir, Andrew Craig Schofield, S. N. Choe, A. J. Farquharson, I. Grant, Steven Darryll Heys

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88 Citations (Scopus)


Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduces mammary tumorigenesis in rodent models, induces apoptosis in rodent mammary tumor cell lines, and decreases expression of antiapoptotic bcl-2 in rat mammary tissue. This investigation focused on the cell mechanisms underlying the antitumor effects of CLA. Changes (mRNA, protein) in expression of major proapoptotic p53, p21WAF1/CIP1, bax, bcl-Xs genes, and the antiapoptotic bcl-2 gene were observed in malignant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells and in benign MCF-10a human mammary tumor cells in culture. CLA, but not linoleic acid (LA), inhibited proliferation in all cells; CLA mix was most effective. CLA increased DNA damage (apoptosis). CLA increased mRNA expression of p53 and p21WAF1/CIP1 (three- to fivefold and twofold, respectively) but either decreased bcl-2 by 20-30% or had no effect in MCF-7 and MCF-10a cells, respectively; protein expression reflected mRNA values. In MDA-MBA-231 (mutant p53) cells, mRNA for p53 was not changed, but p21WAF1/CIP1 and bcl-2 mRNA was increased. Protein expression largely reflected mRNA changes but, surprisingly, CLA completely suppressed mutant p53 protein in MDA-MB-231 cells. Apparent antiapoptotic effects of increased bcl-2 expression in MDA-MBA-231 cells were countered by increased proapoptotic p21WAF1/CIP1, Bax, and Bcl-Xs proteins. Findings indicate that CLA elicits mainly proapoptotic effects in human breast tumor cells through both p53-dependent and p53-independent pathways, according to cell type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1449
Number of pages2
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • mammary cancer
  • apoptotic gene expression
  • antiapoptotic gene expression
  • BCL-2
  • RISK
  • DIET


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