The role of the tissue omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in regulating tumor angiogenesis

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2013 Jun;32(1-2):201-10. doi: 10.1007/s10555-012-9401-9.


Angiogenesis is a necessary step in tumor growth and metastasis. It is well established that the metabolites of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which must be obtained through the diet and cannot be synthesized de novo in mammals, have differential effects on cellular processes. Omega-6 fatty acid (n-6 FA)-derived metabolites promote angiogenesis by increasing growth factor expression whereas omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 FA) have anti-angiogenic and antitumor properties. However, most studies thus far have failed to account for the role of the n-6 FA/n-3 FA ratio in angiogenesis and instead examined the absolute levels of n-6 and n-3 FA. This review highlights the biochemical interactions between n-6 and n-3 FA and focuses on how the n-6/n-3 FA ratio in tissues modulates tumor angiogenesis. We suggest that future work should consider the n-6/n-3 FA ratio to be a key element in experimental design and analysis. Furthermore, we recommend that clinical interventions should aim to both reduce n-6 metabolites and simultaneously increase n-3 FA intake.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6