Differential transcriptional activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma by omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in MCF-7 cells

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2000 Feb 25;160(1-2):67-73. doi: 10.1016/s0303-7207(99)00254-3.


While the role of dietary fats in breast cancer remains controversial, the recent cloning of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), a nuclear hormone receptor, from human breast cancer cells lines provides a potential molecular link. Several fatty acids from four classes of dietary fats were tested for their ability to mediate the transcriptional activity of PPARgamma in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells using growth media with minimal serum. Whereas omega-3 fatty acids inhibit transactivation of PPARgamma to levels below control, omega-6, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids stimulate the activity of the transcriptional reporter. These studies indicate that individual fatty acids differentially regulate the transcriptional activity of PPARgamma by selectively acting as agonists or antagonists. Furthermore, the transcriptional activation of PPARgamma correlates with cell proliferation in MCF-7 cells. Understanding the effects of individual fats on breast cancer cells and PPARgamma transactivation could provide important new insights into the epidemiology of breast cancer and the role of dietary fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Peroxisomes / metabolism
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors