Omega-3 fatty acids, membrane remodeling and cancer prevention. Academic Article uri icon


  • Proteins are often credited as the macromolecule responsible for performing critical cellular functions, however lipids have recently garnered more attention as our understanding of their role in cell function and human health becomes more apparent. Although cellular membranes are the lipid environment in which many proteins function, it is now apparent that protein and lipid assemblies can be organized to form distinct micro- or nanodomains that facilitate signaling events. Indeed, it is now appreciated that cellular function is partly regulated by the specific spatiotemporal lipid composition of the membrane, down to the nanosecond and nanometer scale. Furthermore, membrane composition is altered during human disease processes such as cancer and obesity. For example, an increased rate of lipid/cholesterol synthesis in cancerous tissues has long been recognized as an important aspect of the rewired metabolism of transformed cells. However, the contribution of lipids/cholesterol to cellular function in disease models is not yet fully understood. Furthermore, an important consideration in regard to human health is that diet is a major modulator of cell membrane composition. This can occur directly through incorporation of membrane substrates, such as fatty acids, e.g., n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) and cholesterol. In this review, we describe scenarios in which changes in membrane composition impact human health. Particular focus is placed on the importance of intrinsic lipid/cholesterol biosynthesis and metabolism and extrinsic dietary modification in cancer and its effect on plasma membrane properties.

published proceedings

  • Mol Aspects Med

altmetric score

  • 3.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Fuentes, N. R., Kim, E., Fan, Y., & Chapkin, R. S.

citation count

  • 45

complete list of authors

  • Fuentes, Natividad R||Kim, Eunjoo||Fan, Yang-Yi||Chapkin, Robert S

publication date

  • December 2018