Effects of iron supplementation and ET-18-OCH3 on MDA-MB 231 breast carcinomas in node mice consuming a fish oil diet

W. E. Hardman, C. J. Barnes, C. W. Knight, I. L. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Lipid peroxidation products can be cytotoxic. Our objectives were (1) to use two pro-oxidants (iron and a pro-oxidative drug) to selectively increase lipid peroxidation in the implanted human breast tumours of mice consuming fish oil and (2) to kill the cancer cells without harming normal host tissues. The theoretical basis for selective cytotoxicity is that normal cells are better able to handle oxidative stress than cancer cells. Male athymic nude mice, consuming an AIN-76 diet, were injected s.c. with MDA-MB 231 human breast carcinoma cells. Three weeks later, all mice had palpable tumours, 3-10 mm in diameter, and diets were changed to modified AIN-76 diets containing 19% menhaden fish oil and 1% corn oil with or without supplemental 0.3% ferric citrate. After 2 weeks, half of the mice on each diet (19% fish oil with or without supplemental ferric citrate) were injected (three times per week for 2 weeks) with the ether-lipid drug edelfosine (ET-18-OCH3). The concentration of lipid peroxidation products in tumours (as measured by thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances, TBARS) was significantly increased by both ferric citrate and ET-18-OCH3. The TBARS in livers were not increased, nor was there evidence of other harmful side-effects to the host mice. The addition of iron enhanced tumour cell death whereas ET-18-OCH3 suppressed tumour cell mitosis. The use of iron supplementation combined with ET-18-OCH3 resulted in the slowest growth rate, lowest mitotic index, highest level of lipid peroxidation products and increased the cytotoxic index in tumours without detectable harm to the host. That iron supplementation increased tumour suppression beyond that expected from the increase in the concentration of TBARS in the tumour merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Edelfosine (ET-18-OCH)
  • Fish oil
  • Lipid peroxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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