Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 213–228 | Cite as

Fish oil targets PTEN to regulate NFκB for downregulation of anti-apoptotic genes in breast tumor growth

  • Triparna Ghosh-Choudhury
  • Chandi C. Mandal
  • Kathleen Woodruff
  • Patricia St Clair
  • Gabriel Fernandes
  • Goutam G. Choudhury
  • Nandini Ghosh-ChoudhuryEmail author
Brief Report


The molecular mechanism for the beneficial effect of fish oil on breast tumor growth is largely undefined. Using the xenograft model in nude mice, we for the first time report that the fish oil diet significantly increased the level of PTEN protein in the breast tumors. In addition, the fish oil diet attenuated the PI 3 kinase and Akt kinase activity in the tumors leading to significant inhibition of NFκB activation. Fish oil diet also prevented the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL in the breast tumors with concomitant increase in caspase 3 activity. To extend these findings we tested the functional effects of DHA and EPA, the two active ω-3 fatty acids of fish oil, on cultured MDA MB-231 cells. In agreement with our in vivo data, DHA and EPA treatment increased PTEN mRNA and protein expression and inhibited the phosphorylation of p65 subunit of NFκB in MDA MB-231 cells. Furthermore, DHA and EPA reduced expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL. NFκB DNA binding activity and NFκB-dependent transcription of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL genes were also prevented by DHA and EPA treatment. Finally, we showed that PTEN expression significantly inhibited NFκB-dependent transcription of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL genes. Taken together, our data reveals a novel signaling pathway linking the fish oil diet to increased PTEN expression that attenuates the growth promoting signals and augments the apoptotic signals, resulting in breast tumor regression.


PTEN NFκB DHA EPA Breast tumor growth Apoptotic signal 



Docosahexaenoic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid




Pleckstrin homology


Electrophoretic mobility shift assay





This work was supported by the NIH RO1 AR52425, DOD Breast cancer Concept Award, Morrison Trust Fund and VA Merit Review grants to NGC. GGC is supported by NIH RO1 DK 50190, VA Merit Review and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Regular Research Grants. GGC is recipient of the Research Career Scientist Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs. GF is supported by NIH RO1 AG023648.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary Figure 1 (TIF 155 kb)
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Supplementary Figure 2 (TIF 86 kb)
10549_2008_227_MOESM3_ESM.tif (87 kb)
Supplementary Figure 3 (TIF 88 kb)
10549_2008_227_MOESM4_ESM.tif (87 kb)
Supplementary Figure 4 (TIF 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Triparna Ghosh-Choudhury
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chandi C. Mandal
    • 1
  • Kathleen Woodruff
    • 1
  • Patricia St Clair
    • 1
  • Gabriel Fernandes
    • 2
  • Goutam G. Choudhury
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nandini Ghosh-Choudhury
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  3. 3.Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical CenterSan AntonioUSA
  4. 4.South Texas Veterans Health Care SystemSan AntonioUSA

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