Molecules created when the body metabolizes omega-3s demonstrate anticancer activity

An animal model held by American researchers demonstrated that epoxy docosapentaenoic-ethanolamides (EDP-EA) could suppress the development, growth, and spread of osteosarcoma in mice. EDP-EA are molecules derived from docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a dietary omega-3 fatty acid.

The study was supported by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Its results were published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can be transformed by natural processes into epoxide metabolites that possess anticancer activity. DHA itself can be converted into docosahexaenoyl-ethanolamide (DHEA), an endocannabinoid that also prevents the proliferation of cancer.
  • The researchers recently discovered a new class of DHEA-epoxide derivatives called epoxy docosapentaenoic-ethanolamides (EDP-EAs). The derivatives contained ethanolamide and epoxide components.
  • Furthermore, EDP-EAs displayed anti-inflammatory activity. Earlier research has also demonstrated the connection between inflammation and the progression of cancer tumors, suggesting that anti-inflammatories like EDP-EAs could inhibit cancer.
  • For the new study, the researchers created an osteosarcoma model and examined the amount of EDP-EA in their lungs. The EDP-EA levels in the metastatic lungs of mice were ~80 percent higher than the concentration in healthy mice. There were also considerable variations in the anticancer activities of the EDP-EA regioisomers. The cannabinoid receptor 1 is partially responsible for mediating these effects.
  • The regioisomer with the greatest pro-apoptotic activity was used to synthesize derivative compounds. The derived products were more resistant to getting broken down by fatty acid amide hydrolase, and they also demonstrated higher levels of CB1-selective binding.

The researchers concluded that the new epoxy docosapentaenoic-ethanolamides derived from omega-3 fatty acids possessed the ability to inhibit the growth, spread, and development of cancer tumors.

Read more articles about the ways omega 3 can help prevent the onset and spread of cancer at

Journal Reference:

Roy J, Watson JE, Hong IS, Fan TM, Das A. ANTITUMORIGENIC PROPERTIES OF OMEGA-3 ENDOCANNABINOID EPOXIDES. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2018;61(13):5569–5579. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b00243.

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