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, 20 (3), 291-292

Unsaturated Fatty Acids Maintain Cancer Cell Stemness


Unsaturated Fatty Acids Maintain Cancer Cell Stemness

Abir Mukherjee et al. Cell Stem Cell.


Investigation of the metabolic regulation of cancer stem cells is an emerging field that offers promising approaches for identifying and targeting recalcitrant stem cell populations. In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Li et al. (2017) indicate that increased lipid desaturation is essential to stem-like characteristics in ovarian cancer cells.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Higher unsaturated lipid profile of ovarian cancer stem cells attributed to increased SCD-1 expression. Changes in lipid profile were detected using stimulated raman scattering (SRS) microscopy. Ovarian cancer cells grown as spheroids have a higher lipid content, especially unsaturated lipids which scatter monochromatic light differently (left panel) as depicted in the energy level diagram. The authors use this method and show that ovarian cancer stem cells (CSCs) (ALDH+/CD133+) cells have increased lipid droplets. Growing ovarian CSCs and cell lines as spheroids increase their unsaturated lipid content, which activates NFκB activity, thereby increasing SCD-1 and ALDH1A1 expression. These proteins subsequently increase and maintain stemness of cancer cells, thus inducing a feedforward loop where unsaturated fatty acids increase SCD-1 via NFκB, leading to enhanced unsaturated fatty acid production.

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