Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Susan Hawk


Vitamin A metabolites and retinoids may slow the progression of breast cancer and elicit anti-neoplastic properties similar to those of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies using animal models show a decrease in the incidence, growth and metastisis of mammary tumors in the presence of specific fatty acids. This effect is also seen with use of retinoids, specifically all-trans retinoic acid (AtRA). Thus, fatty acids may also alter retinoid homeostasis in mammary carcinoma cells (MCF-7s). The potential for inter/co dependency among fatty acids and retinoids is considerable, and here it has been hypothesized that a decrease in cancer progression will occur in the presence of both compounds. MCF-7’s were seeded in a 48 well plate at 5,000 cells per well. After 24 hr, cells were treated with either 1 µM AtRA alone, fatty acids alone, or AtRA + fatty acids. Fatty acid treatments (Linoleic, and Linolenic) were administered at 2.5 uM concentrations. Each fatty acid treatment was also combined with 1 µM AtRA to determine if there is a synergistic effect on slowing cell growth. Both culture media and treatments were changed at 24 hour intervals over a 3 day trial. When compared to the controls, cells treated with 1 µM AtRA or 2.5 µM Linolenic acid both inhibited cell growth. Interestingly, when combined with Linolenic acid, AtRA treatment resulted in a significant (nearly 50%) additional growth inhibition when compared to treatment with AtRA alone. Our results suggest that AtRA and Linolenic acid have a inter/co dependency that significantly inhibits breast cancer cell growth in vitro by 73.4 % compared to control, and 49.7% compared to AtRA alone over 72 hours. We conclude that AtRA and linolenic acid have a combined effect in breast cancer cell proliferation in-vitro and their role in dietary prevention warrants further investigation.