Flaxseed enriched diet-mediated reduction in ovarian cancer severity is correlated to the reduction of prostaglandin E(2) in laying hen ovaries

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Sep;89(4):179-87. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Prevention of ovarian cancer is the best approach for reducing the impact of this deadly disease. The laying hen is a robust model of spontaneous ovarian cancer that recapitulates the human disease. Dietary intervention with flaxseed, the richest vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids (OM-3FAs) and phytoestrogen lignans, demonstrate the potential for effective prevention and amelioration of ovarian cancer by targeting inflammatory prostaglandin pathways. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is the most pro-inflammatory ecoisanoid and one of the downstream products of two isoforms of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2. Our objective was to investigate the effect of flaxseed supplementation for one year on ovarian cancer and correlate its effects to expression of COX enzymes and concentrations of prostaglandins. White Leghorn hens were fed 10% flaxseed-enriched or standard diet for one year. The severity of ovarian cancer was determined by gross pathology and histology. COX-1 and COX-2 localization and protein and mRNA expression and PGE2 and PGE3 concentrations in ovaries were measured by IHC, western blot, quantitative real-time PCR and LC-MS-MS, respectively. The results demonstrated a significant reduction in late stage ovarian tumors in the flaxseed-fed hens compared with the control diet-fed hens. In correlation with decreased ovarian cancer severity, concentrations of PGE2 and expression of COX-2 were diminished in ovaries of flaxseed-fed hens. PGE3 concentrations were below the level of detection. The results demonstrated that in normal ovaries, COX-1 was localized to the granulosa cell layer surrounding the follicles and ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) whereas COX-2 protein was localized to the granulosa cell layer in the follicle. Extensive COX-1 and COX-2 protein expression was found throughout the ovarian carcinoma. Our findings suggest that the flaxseed-mediated reduction in the severity of ovarian cancer in hens is correlated to the reduction in PGE2 in the ovaries of flaxseed-fed hens. These findings may provide the basis for clinical trials of dietary intervention targeting prostaglandin biosynthesis for the prevention and treatment of ovarian cancer.

Keywords: Cyclooxygenases; Flaxseed; Laying hen; Ovarian cancer; Prostaglandin E(2).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Avian Proteins / genetics
  • Avian Proteins / metabolism
  • Chickens
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flax*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / veterinary*
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Ovulation
  • Poultry Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype / genetics


  • Avian Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone