Extracellular fatty acids are the major contributor to lipid synthesis in prostate cancer

Seher Balaban, Zeyad D. Nassar, Alison Y. Zhang, Elham Hosseini-Beheshti, Margaret M. Centenera, Mark Schreuder, Hui Ming Lin, Atqiya Aishah, Bianca Varney, Frank Liu-Fu, Lisa S. Lee, Shilpa R. Nagarajan, Robert F. Shearer, Rae Anne Hardie, Nikki L. Raftopulos, Meghna S. Kakani, Darren N. Saunders, Jeff Holst, Lisa G. Horvath, Lisa M. ButlerAndrew J. Hoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Prostate cancer cells exhibit altered cellular metabolism but, notably, not the hallmarks of Warburg metabolism. Prostate cancer cells exhibit increased de novo synthesis of fatty acids (FA); however, little is known about how extracellular FAs, such as those in the circulation, may support prostate cancer progression. Here, we show that increasing FA availability increased intracellular triacylglycerol content in cultured patient-derived tumor explants, LNCaP and C4-2B spheroids, a range of prostate cancer cells (LNCaP, C4-2B, 22Rv1, PC-3), and prostate epithelial cells (PNT1). Extracellular FAs are the major source (83%) of carbons to the total lipid pool in all cell lines, compared with glucose (13%) and glutamine (4%), and FA oxidation rates are greater in prostate cancer cells compared with PNT1 cells, which preferentially partitioned extracellular FAs into triacylglycerols. Because of the higher rates of FA oxidation in C4-2B cells, cells remained viable when challenged by the addition of palmitate to culture media and inhibition of mitochondrial FA oxidation sensitized C4-2B cells to palmitate-induced apoptosis. Whereas in PC-3 cells, palmitate induced apoptosis, which was prevented by pretreatment of PC-3 cells with FAs, and this protective effect required DGAT-1-mediated triacylglycerol synthesis. These outcomes highlight for the first-time heterogeneity of lipid metabolism in prostate cancer cells and the potential influence that obesity-associated dyslipidemia or host circulating has on prostate cancer progression. Implications: Extracellular-derived FAs are primary building blocks for complex lipids and heterogeneity in FA metabolism exists in prostate cancer that can influence tumor cell behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-962
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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