Anti-inflammatory nitro-fatty acids suppress tumor growth by triggering mitochondrial dysfunction and activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in colorectal cancer cells

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Graphical abstractNitro-fatty acids (NFAs) are endogenously occurring lipid mediators exerting strong anti-inflammatory effects and acting as anti-oxidants in a number of animal models of inflammation. These NFA effects are mediated by targeting important regulatory proteins involved in inflammatory processes, such as 5-lipoxygenase, soluble epoxide hydrolase, or NF-κB. In the present study, we investigated the anti-tumorigenic effects of NFAs on colorectal cancer (CRC) cells in cell culture-based experiments and in a murine xenograft model of human CRC. We could show that 9-NOA suppresses the viability of CRC cells (HCT-116 and HT-29) by inducing a caspase-dependent apoptosis via the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Co-treatment with the pan-caspase inhibitor Q-VD-OPH counteracted the NFA-mediated apoptosis in both cell lines. Furthermore, NFAs affected the cell cycle transition and reduced the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) immediately. On the contrary to their well-known anti-oxidative properties, NFAs mediated the generation of mitochondrial oxidative stress in human CRC cells. Additionally, similar to the cytostatic drug mitomycin, 9-NOA significantly reduced tumor growth in a murine xenograft model of human colorectal cancer. In contrast to the established cytostatic drug, 9-NOA treatment was well tolerated by mice. This study delivers a novel mechanistic approach for nitro-fatty acid-induced inhibition of CRC cell growth by targeting mitochondrial functions such as the mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial respiration. We suggest these naturally occurring lipid mediators as a new class of well tolerated chemotherapeutic drug candidates for treatment of CRC or potentially other inflammation-driven cancer types.

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