Gene and lncRNA Profiling of ω3/ω6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid-Exposed Human Visceral Adipocytes Uncovers Different Responses in Healthy Lean, Obese and Colorectal Cancer-Affected Individuals

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Mar 15;25(6):3357. doi: 10.3390/ijms25063357.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major life-threatening disease, being the third most common cancer and a leading cause of death worldwide. Enhanced adiposity, particularly visceral fat, is a major risk factor for CRC, and obesity-associated alterations in metabolic, inflammatory and immune profiles in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) strongly contribute to promoting or sustaining intestinal carcinogenesis. The role of diet and nutrition in obesity and CRC has been extensively demonstrated, and AT represents the main place where diet-induced signals are integrated. Among the factors introduced with diet and processed or enriched in AT, ω3/ω6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are endowed with pro- or anti-inflammatory properties and have been shown to exert either promoting or protective roles in CRC. In this study, we investigated the impact of ex vivo exposure to the ω3 and ω6 PUFAs docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids on VAT adipocyte whole transcription in healthy lean, obese and CRC-affected individuals. High-throughput sequencing of protein-coding and long non-coding RNAs allowed us to identify specific pathways and regulatory circuits controlled by PUFAs and highlighted an impaired responsiveness of obese and CRC-affected individuals as compared to the strong response observed in healthy lean subjects. This further supports the role of healthy diets and balanced ω3/ω6 PUFA intake in the primary prevention of obesity and cancer.

Keywords: adipose tissue; colorectal cancer; long non-coding RNA; obesity; polyunsaturated fatty acids; transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3* / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3* / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Humans
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • RNA, Long Noncoding*


  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a grant from the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) (IG 2013 N14185) to SG (2013–2016).