Polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce Fatty Acid Synthase and Hydroxy-Methyl-Glutaryl CoA-Reductase gene expression and promote apoptosis in HepG2 cell line

Maria Notarnicola, Caterina Messa, Maria G. Refolo, Valeria Tutino, Angelica Miccolis, Maria G. Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are the two major classes of PUFAs encountered in the diet, and both classes of fatty acids are required for normal human health. Moreover, PUFAs have effects on diverse pathological processes impacting chronic disease, such as cardiovascular and immune disease, neurological disease, and cancer. Aim. To investigate the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) on the proliferation and apoptosis of human hepatoma cell line HepG2 after exposure to increasing concentrations of EPA or ARA for 48 h. Moreover, in the same cells the gene expression of Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS) and 3-Hydroxy-3-Methyl-Glutaryl Coenzyme A Reductase (HMG-CoAR) was also investigated. Method. Cell growth and apoptosis were assayed by MTT and ELISA test, respectively after cell exposure to increasing concentrations of EPA and ARA. Reverse-transcription and real-time PCR was used to detect FAS and HMG-CoAR mRNA levels in treated cells. Results: Our findings show that EPA inhibits HepG2 cell growth in a dose-dependent manner, starting from 25 M (P <0.01, one-way ANOVA test and Dunnett's post test) and exerts a statistically significant pro-apoptotic effect already at 1 M of EPA. Higher doses of ARA were need to obtain a statistically significant inhibition of cell proliferation and a pro-apoptotic effect in these cells (100 M, P <0.01, one-way ANOVA test and Dunnett's post test). Moreover, a down-regulation of FAS and HMG-CoAR gene expression was observed after EPA and ARA treatment in HepG2 cells, starting at 10 M (P <0.05, one-way ANOVA test and Dunnett's post test). Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that EPA and ARA inhibit HepG2 cell proliferation and induce apoptosis. The down-regulation of FAS and HMG-CoAR gene expression by EPA and ARA might be one of the mechanisms for the anti-proliferative properties of PUFAs in an in vitro model of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalLipids in Health and Disease
Publication statusPublished - 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

Cite this