The combination of fish oil-derived docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6, n-3) and butyrate (4:0), a fiber fermentation product, synergize to enhance colonocyte apoptosis by inducing a p53-independent, oxidation sensitive, mitochondrial Ca2+-dependent (intrinsic) pathway.
In this study, we probed the specificity of n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid induction of Ca2+-dependent proapoptotic events in immortalized YAMC colonocytes. We also determined whether combinations of polyunsaturated fatty acid and butyrate trigger endoplasmic stress (ER) stress conditions, thereby promoting mitochondrial Ca2+ overload. Cultures were treated with 0–50 μM of DHA (22:6, n-3), EPA (20:5, n-3), AA (20:4, n-6), LA (18:2, n-6) or OA (18:1, n-9) for a total of 72 h ± RU-360, to inhibit the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter, for 30 min prior to butyrate (0 or 5 mM) co-treatment.
DHA and butyrate combination maximally induced apoptosis and mitochondrial-to-cytosolic Ca2+ levels. In comparison, EPA, a precursor to DHA, was minimally effective. Similarly, AA and OA in combination with butyrate had no effect on mitochondrial Ca2+ or apoptosis compared to butyrate alone. DHA ± butyrate co-treatment minimally altered ER stress regulated genes, CHOP and eIF2α.
These data indicate that butyrate and DHA, but not EPA, work coordinately to trigger an ER-independent, Ca2+-dependent intrinsic mitochondrial-mediated apoptotic pathway in colonocytes.