Effect of n-3 fatty acids on the antitumour effects of cytotoxic drugs

Michael P. Wynter, Steve T. Russell, Michael J. Tisdale*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: n-3 fatty acids are increasingly being administered to cancer patients for the treatment of cachexia, and it is thus important to know of any potential interactions with ongoing cytotoxic drug therapy. Materials and methods: For this reason eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were administered to mice bearing the cachexia-inducing MAC16 colon adenocarcinoma, and the effect of epothilone, gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide on tumour growth and body weight determined. Results: Epothilone alone had a minimal effect on tumour growth rate, but this was potentiated by DHA, while for 5-fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide tumour growth inhibition was enhanced by EPA. The antitumour effect of gemcitabine was not altered by either fatty acid. EPA arrested the development of cachexia, while DHA had no effect and the same was true for their effect on tumour growth rate. The anticachectic effect of EPA was only seen in combination with 5-fluorouracil. Conclusion: These results suggest that n-3 fatty acids do not interfere with the action of chemotherapy and may potentiate the effect of certain agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-548
Number of pages6
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2004 International Institute of Anticancer Research (Dr. John G. Delinassios), All rights reserved. ICHAEL P. WYNTER, STEVEN T. RUSSELL, and MICHAEL J. TISDALE
Effect of n-3 Fatty Acids on the Antitumour Effects of Cytotoxic Drugs
In Vivo September-October 2004 18 (5) 543-548


  • combination therapy
  • antitumour agents
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • cachexia


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