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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 568671, 11 pages
Research Article

The Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid DHA Induces Simultaneous Apoptosis and Autophagy via Mitochondrial ROS-Mediated Akt-mTOR Signaling in Prostate Cancer Cells Expressing Mutant p53

1Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 301-747, Republic of Korea
2Infection Signaling Network Research Center, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 301-747, Republic of Korea
3Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
4Cancer Research Institute, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 301-747, Republic of Korea

Received 12 March 2013; Accepted 29 April 2013

Academic Editor: Gabriella Calviello

Copyright © 2013 Soyeon Shin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) induces autophagy-associated apoptotic cell death in wild-type p53 cancer cells via regulation of p53. The present study investigated the effects of DHA on PC3 and DU145 prostate cancer cell lines harboring mutant p53. Results show that, in addition to apoptosis, DHA increased the expression levels of lipidated form LC3B and potently stimulated the autophagic flux, suggesting that DHA induces both autophagy and apoptosis in cancer cells expressing mutant p53. DHA led to the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), as shown by the mitochondrial ROS-specific probe mitoSOX. Similarly, pretreatment with the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) markedly inhibited both the autophagy and the apoptosis triggered by DHA, indicating that mitochondrial ROS mediate the cytotoxicity of DHA in mutant p53 cells. Further, DHA reduced the levels of phospho-Akt and phospho-mTOR in a concentration-dependent manner, while NAC almost completely blocked that effect. Collectively, these findings present a novel mechanism of ROS-regulated apoptosis and autophagy that involves Akt-mTOR signaling in prostate cancer cells with mutant p53 exposed to DHA.