Background Oral administration of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), as the free fatty acid (FFA), leads to EPA incorporation into, and reduced growth of, experimental colorectal cancer liver metastases (CRCLM).
Design: We performed a Phase II double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial of EPA-FFA 2 g daily in patients undergoing liver resection surgery for CRCLM. The patients took EPA-FFA (n=43) or placebo (n=45) prior to surgery. The primary end-point was the CRCLM Ki67 proliferation index (PI). Secondary end-points included safety and tolerability of EPA-FFA, tumour fatty acid content and CD31-positive vascularity. We also analysed overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS).
Results The median (range) duration of EPA-FFA treatment was 30 (12–65) days. Treatment groups were well matched with no significant difference in disease burden at surgery or preoperative chemotherapy. EPA-FFA treatment was well tolerated with no excess of postoperative complications. Tumour tissue from EPA-FFA-treated patients demonstrated a 40% increase in EPA content (p=0.0008), no difference in Ki67 PI, but reduced vascularity in ‘EPA-naïve’ individuals (p=0.075). EPA-FFA also demonstrated antiangiogenic activity in vitro. In the first 18 months after CRCLM resection, EPA-FFA-treated individuals obtained OS benefit compared with placebo, although early CRC recurrence rates were similar.
Conclusions EPA-FFA therapy is safe and well tolerated in patients with advanced CRC undergoing liver surgery. EPA-FFA may have antiangiogenic properties. Remarkably, limited preoperative treatment may provide postoperative OS benefit. Phase III clinical evaluation of prolonged EPA-FFA treatment in CRCLM patients is warranted.
Trial Identifier: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01070355.
- Colorectal Cancer
- Fatty Acid Supplementation
- Lipid Mediators
- Liver Metastases