El-Mowafy and his colleagues focused on the omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexanoic acid (DHA), which is found in oil from cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, and in some vegetable oils. It is also a significant constituent of the brain’s gray matter and of the retina in most species of mammals, and it is thought to be essential for normal development of all nerves and cells. The researchers also investigated DHA’s interaction with cisplatin, a chemotherapy medication that has the serious side effect of causing kidney damage.
“DHA elicited prominent chemopreventive effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of cisplatin as well,” El-Mowafy said. “Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate lethal cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and renal tissue injury.” Nephro- and renal are respectively a prefix and an adjective that mean kidney.
Part of the research team’s efforts focused on DHA’s action on the molecular level. They found that the omega-3 fatty acid works by reducing leukocytosis (white blood cell accumulation), systemic inflammation and oxidative stress – all of which are associated with tumor growth.
El-Mowafy and his team recommended greater use of omega-3 fatty acids in the struggle against cancer.
“Our results suggest a new, fruitful drug regimen in the management of solid tumors based on combining cisplatin, and possibly other chemotherapeutics, with DHA,” the authors wrote.