Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 32, Issue 1–2, pp 201–210 | Cite as

The role of the tissue omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in regulating tumor angiogenesis

  • Jing X. Kang
  • Angela Liu


Angiogenesis is a necessary step in tumor growth and metastasis. It is well established that the metabolites of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which must be obtained through the diet and cannot be synthesized de novo in mammals, have differential effects on cellular processes. Omega-6 fatty acid (n−6 FA)-derived metabolites promote angiogenesis by increasing growth factor expression whereas omega-3 fatty acids (n−3 FA) have anti-angiogenic and antitumor properties. However, most studies thus far have failed to account for the role of the n−6 FA/n−3 FA ratio in angiogenesis and instead examined the absolute levels of n−6 and n−3 FA. This review highlights the biochemical interactions between n−6 and n−3 FA and focuses on how the n−6/n−3 FA ratio in tissues modulates tumor angiogenesis. We suggest that future work should consider the n−6/n−3 FA ratio to be a key element in experimental design and analysis. Furthermore, we recommend that clinical interventions should aim to both reduce n−6 metabolites and simultaneously increase n−3 FA intake.


Omega-3 fatty acids Omega-6 fatty acids Fatty acid ratio Angiogenesis Cancer Inflammation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory for Lipid Medicine and TechnologyMassachusetts General HospitalCharlestownUSA

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