Mammalian fatty acid synthase (FASE) overexpression has been shown in a number of human malignancies including colonic adenocarcinoma. Since FASE synthesizes only saturated fatty acids, we hypothesized that cancer cells have a greater proportion of long-chain saturated fatty acids. We studied and found an unequivocal increase in saturated C18 fatty acid (stearic acid) in colonic adenocarcinoma compared to adjacent normal colonic mucosa. The increase is even more striking when measured as a ratio of stearic acid to the unsaturated C18 fatty acids (oleic acid and linoleic acid). This change in fatty acid composition of the cancer cells should significantly alter their physical and biological properties. The increase in relative proportion of saturated fatty acids should make the cancer cells more susceptible to cryodamage and measurement of fatty acid composition of cancer cells may help individualize the temperature for cryotherapy. Also, the lipid alterations may affect the structure and functions of lipid rafts, which may enable the cancer cells to affect signaling mechanisms such as those involved in cell growth and apoptosis. Dietary or therapeutic interventions targeting lipid rafts may thus be an option for cancer treatment.
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