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

Iain Brown, Klaus W. Wahle, Maria G. Cascio, Reem Smoum, Raphael Mechoulam, Roger G. Pertwee, Steven D. Heys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 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



  • N-acylethanolamine
  • endocannabinoid
  • n-3 PUFA
  • prostate cancer
  • breast cancer

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