The effects of dietary fatty acids on the proliferation of normal human urothelial cells in vitro

J. Southgate*, E. Pitt, L. K. Trejdosiewicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known of the mechanisms by which dietary fatty acids (FAs) may affect normal epithelial cell physiology and thereby directly or indirectly influence tumour incidence and progression. In this study, we have used normal human urothelial cell cultures to investigate whether FAs may modify proliferation of normal human epithelial cells in vitro. FAs were presented as albumin complexes in serum-free medium and the effects on proliferation over a concentration range of 1-100 μM were assayed by thymidine incorporation. Saturated FAs had no effect. At lower concentrations (1-10 μM), mono-unsaturated FAs (MUFAs) and n-3 polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) were slightly stimulatory. Concentrations of unsaturated FAs above 10 μM were growth irhibitory in a dose-dependent manner. Oleic acid showed least cytostatic effect, whereas γ-linolenic acid induced irreversible growth arrest. Although marked morphological effects were observed in irreversibly growth-inhibited cells, the cells remained attached to the substratum and showed no evidence of nuclear pyknosis or apoptosis. The inhibitory effects of single PUFAs could be reduced, but not abolished, by the addition of saturated FAs or MUFAs. Mixtures of different PUFAs were inhibitory in an additive manner. These data suggest that PUFAs have a cytostatic effect on rapidly proliferating epithelial cells which appears unrelated to malignant transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-734
Number of pages7
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 1996


  • Diet
  • Epithelium
  • Fatty acid
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • Proliferation
  • Urothelium

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