Journal : Lipids , vol. 37 , p. 797–802 , 2002
International Standard Numbers
Printed : 0024-4201
Electronic : 1558-9307
Publication type : Academic article
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Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) may reduce the cell number in cultured leukemia/lymphoma cells owing to reduced cell proliferation, induction of cell death, or a combination of these processes. EPA has been shown to promote apoptosis in Ramos cells, and our present study was focused on a possible cell cycle arrest and the pathways by which the apoptotic process is induced. Apoptosis may proceed along the intrinsic (mitochondrial) or the extrinsic (death receptor) pathway, which are mediated via different caspases. Caspases are a class of homologous cysteine proteases recognized as pivotal mediators of apoptosis. We investigated whether EPA affects progression of the cell cycle or promotes apoptosis directly. By incorporation of [H-3]thymidine and [H-3]valine, we showed that DNA, as well as protein synthesis, was reduced after incubation of Ramos cells with EPA for 6 h. We monitored cell cycle distribution by 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine staining and observed no cell cycle arrest in the EPA-incubated cells. Incubation of cells with EPA caused PS-flipping, as demonstrated by annexin V-binding (flow cytometry), and cleavage of poly(ADPribose) polymerase measured by Western blot analysis. Furthermore, we observed increased activity of caspase-3 and -9, but not of caspase-8. Whereas inhibitors of caspase-3 and -9 reduced EPA-induced apoptosis, inhibition of caspase-8 did not. This suggests that EPA may promote apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway in Ramos cells. Thus, the reduction in cell number can be explained by a direct apoptotic effect of EPA rather than via cell cycle arrest