Lipid bodies (lipid droplets) are emerging as dynamic organelles involved in lipid metabolism and inflammation. Increased lipid body numbers have been described in tumor cells; however, its functional significance in cancer has never been addressed. Here, we showed increased number of lipid bodies in tumor tissues from patients with adenocarcinoma of colon submitted to surgical resection when compared with an adjacent normal tissue. Accordingly, increased numbers of lipid bodies were observed in human colon adenocarcinoma cell lines and in a H-rasV12-transformed intestinal epithelial cell line (IEC-6 H-rasV12) compared with nontransformed IEC-6 cells. The functions of lipid bodies in eicosanoid synthesis in cancer cells were investigated. CACO-2 cells have increased expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) when compared with IEC-6 cells. We showed by immunolocalization that, in addition to perinuclear stain, COX-2 and prostaglandin E (PGE) synthase present punctate cytoplasmic localizations that were concordant with adipose differentiation-related protein-labeled lipid bodies. The colocalization of COX-2 at lipid bodies was confirmed by immunoblot of subcellular fractionated cells. Direct localization of PGE(2) at its synthesis locale showed that lipid bodies are sources of eicosanoids in the transformed colon cancer cells. Treatment with either aspirin or the fatty acid synthase inhibitor C75 significantly reduced the number of lipid bodies and PGE(2) production in CACO-2 and in IEC-6 H-rasV12 cells with effects in cell proliferation. Together, our results showed that lipid bodies in colon cancer cells are dynamic and functional active organelles centrally involved in PGE(2) synthesis and may potentially have implications in the pathogenesis of adenocarcinoma of colon.
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