Flaxseed reduces the pro-carcinogenic micro-environment in the ovaries of normal hens by altering the PG and oestrogen pathways in a dose-dependent manner

Br J Nutr. 2015 May 14;113(9):1384-95. doi: 10.1017/S000711451500029X. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


The objective of the present study was to find the optimum dose of flaxseed that would decrease PG and alter oestrogen pathway endpoints implicated in ovarian cancer. In the study, four groups of fifty 1.5-year-old chickens were fed different amounts of flaxseed (0, 5, 10 or 15% of their total diet) for 4 months and were then killed to collect blood and tissues. Levels of flaxseed lignan metabolites, Enterolactone (EL) and Enterodiol (ED) were measured in the serum, liver and ovaries by liquid chromatography-MS/MS, and n-3 and n-6 fatty acid (FA) levels were measured by GC. The effects of the varied flaxseed doses were assessed by measuring levels of PGE2 and oestrogen metabolites (16-hydroxyestrone (16-OHE1) and 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1)) as well as by analysing the expression of the oestradiol metabolising enzymes CYP3A4 (cytochrome p450, family 3, subfamily A, polypeptide 4), CYP1B1 (cytochrome p450, family 1, subfamily B, polypeptide 1) and CYP1A1 (cytochrome p450, family 1, subfamily A, polypeptide 1) and that of oestrogen receptor α (ERα) in the ovaries. The ratio of n-3:n-FA increased with an increase in flaxseed supplementation and corresponded to a dose-dependent decrease in cyclo-oxygenase-2 protein and PGE2 levels. EL and ED increased in the serum, liver and ovaries with increased concentrations of flaxseed. Flaxseed decreased the expression of ERα in the ovaries. The ratio of 2-OHE1:16-OHE1 in the serum increased significantly in the 15% flaxseed diet, and there was a corresponding increase in CYP1A1 in the liver and decrease in CYP3A4 in the ovaries. CYP1B1 mRNA also decreased with flaxseed diet in the ovaries. The 15% flaxseed-supplemented diet significantly decreased inflammatory PGE2, ERα, CYP3A4, CYP1B1 and 16-OHE1, but it increased CYP1A1 and 2-OHE1, which thus reduced the inflammatory and pro-carcinogenic micro-environment of the ovaries.

Keywords: Flaxseed; Oestrogen; Ovarian cancer prevention; PG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Butyrolactone / analysis
  • 4-Butyrolactone / blood
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Chickens*
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / analysis
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / genetics
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / analysis
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / analysis
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1B1 / analysis
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / analysis
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dinoprostone / analysis
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / analysis
  • Estrogens / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / analysis
  • Female
  • Flax*
  • Hydroxyestrones / analysis
  • Lignans / analysis
  • Lignans / blood
  • Lignans / metabolism
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ovary / chemistry
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Estrogens
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Hydroxyestrones
  • Lignans
  • RNA, Messenger
  • 16-hydroxyestrone
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butane-1,4-diol
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1B1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone
  • 4-Butyrolactone
  • 2-hydroxyestrone
  • 2,3-bis(3'-hydroxybenzyl)butyrolactone