Chemopreventive and renal protective effects for DHA

by Pat Berry

Exciting results of a study of the effects on tumors of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA were published in 2009. The study, conducted on mice and rats, showed that DHA on its own helps shrink tumors.

But the benefits of DHA went even further: DHA also enhanced the cancer-shrinking effects of a particular chemotherapy agent called cisplatin, which is sometimes used in sarcoma, small cell lung cancer, germ cell tumors, lymphoma, and ovarian cancer.

Further, in certain doses, DHA overcame cisplatin's extreme, and sometimes lethal, toxic effects on the kidneys.

It seems that varied and far-reaching benefits of omega-3's are being discovered almost weekly. Are you getting enough omega-3? Unfortunately, fish, which used to be a great source of dietary omega-3, are almost always contaminated with mercury and other toxins, which we just don't want in our bodies.

We get our omega-3 from green-lipped mussel oil farmed in the pristine waters of New Zealand, tested daily and found free of mercury and other contaminants.

Below is the abstract of the research paper. Please understand that in publishing this, we are not advocating use of the chemotherapy agent involved in the study, nor any other. Our purpose is to highlight one more benefit of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

Chemopreventive and renal protective effects for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): implications of CRP and lipid peroxides

ME El-Mesery1, MM Al-Gayyar1, HA Salem2, MM Darweish1 and AM El-Mowafy1

1 Departments of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, Mansoura 35516, Egypt

2 Departments of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mansoura University, Mansoura 35516, Egypt



The fish oil-derived &omega-3 fatty acids, like docosahexanoic (DHA), claim a plethora of health benefits. We currently evaluated the antitumor effects of DHA, alone or in combination with cisplatin (CP) in the EAC solid tumor mice model, and monitored concomitant changes in serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), lipid peroxidation (measured as malondialdehyde; MDA) and leukocytic count (LC). Further, we verified the capacity of DHA to ameliorate the lethal, CP-induced nephrotoxicity in rats and the molecular mechanisms involved therein.


EAC-bearing mice exhibited markedly elevated LC (2-fold), CRP (11-fold) and MDA levels (2.7-fold). DHA (125, 250 mg/kg) elicited significant, dose-dependent reductions in tumor size (38%, 79%; respectively), as well as in LC, CRP and MDA levels. These effects for CP were appreciably lower than those of DHA (250 mg/kg). Interestingly, DHA (125 mg/kg) markedly enhanced the chemopreventive effects of CP and boosted its ability to reduce serum CRP and MDA levels. Correlation studies revealed a high degree of positive association between tumor growth and each of CRP (r = 0.85) and leukocytosis (r = 0.89), thus attesting to a diagnostic/prognostic role for CRP.

On the other hand, a single CP dose (10 mg/kg) induced nephrotoxicity in rats that was evidenced by proteinuria, deterioration of glomerular filtration rate (GFR, -4-fold), a rise in serum creatinine/urea levels (2--5-fold) after 4 days, and globally-induced animal fatalities after 7 days. Kidney-homogenates from CP-treated rats displayed significantly elevated MDA- and TNF-&alpha-, but reduced GSH-, levels. Rats treated with DHA (250 mg/kg, but not 125 mg/kg) survived the lethal effects of CP, and showed a significant recovery of GFR; while their homogenates had markedly-reduced MDA- and TNF-&alpha-, but -increased GSH-levels. Significant association was detected between creatinine level and those of MDA (r = 0.81), TNF-?) r = 0.92) and GSH s(r = -0.82); implying causal relationships.


DHA elicited prominent chemopreventive effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of CP as well. The extent of tumor progression in various mouse groups was highly reflected by CRP levels (thus implying a diagnostic/prognostic role for CRP). Further, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate the lethal CP-induced nephrotoxicity and renal tissue injury. At the molecular level, DHA appears to act by reducing leukocytosis, systemic inflammation, and oxidative stress.

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
© 2009 Elmesery et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Republished with permission

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