The influence of fatty acids, α-linolenic acid (ALA), and linoleic acid (LA), on lipid membrane dynamics and cell proliferation was investigated. Electron-spin resonance measurements with 2-hexyl-2-(10-methoxycarbonyldecyl)-4,4-dimethyl-3-oxazolidinyloxyl revealed that the penetration of ALA or LA into the liposomal membrane causes an increase in the membrane fluidity and a decrease in the phase-transition temperature of the lipid membrane. When human colon cancer cells (RPMI4788 and BM314) and normal mouse fibroblast (L-cell) were incubated with ALA, the membrane fluidity of the cancer cells significantly increased over that of normal cells. ALA made the cancer cell membrane more fluid than did LA. When ALA was administered at a concentration of 40 μg ml-1, it showed a strong cytotoxicity against the cancer cells, but not to the normal cells. On the other hand, LA (up to 80 μg ml-1) rather promoted growth of the cancer cells. These results seem able to be interpreted as an aspect of the selective cytotoxicities of ALA.
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