Metabolites, 2023, doi: 10.3390/metabo13080945

Flaxseed Reduces Cancer Risk by Altering Bioenergetic Pathways in Liver: Connecting SAM Biosynthesis to Cellular Energy

Weston WC Hales KH Hales DB

This article illustrates how dietary flaxseed can be used to reduce cancer risk, specifically by attenuating obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We utilize a targeted metabolomics dataset in combination with a reanalysis of past work to investigate the “metabo-bioenergetic” adaptations that occur in White Leghorn laying hens while consuming dietary flaxseed. Recently, we revealed how the anti-vitamin B6 effects of flaxseed augment one-carbon metabolism in a manner that accelerates S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) biosynthesis. Researchers recently showed that accelerated SAM biosynthesis activates the cell’s master energy sensor, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Our paper provides evidence that flaxseed upregulates mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and glycolysis in liver, concomitant with the attenuation of lipogenesis and polyamine biosynthesis. Defatted flaxseed likely functions as a metformin homologue by upregulating hepatic glucose uptake and pyruvate flux through the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) in laying hens. In contrast, whole flaxseed appears to attenuate liver steatosis and body mass by modifying mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and lipogenesis. Several acylcarnitine moieties indicate Randle cycle adaptations that protect mitochondria from metabolic overload when hens consume flaxseed. We also discuss a paradoxical finding whereby flaxseed induces the highest glycated hemoglobin percentage (HbA1c%) ever recorded in birds, and we suspect that hyperglycemia is not the cause. In conclusion, flaxseed modifies bioenergetic pathways to attenuate the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and NAFLD, possibly downstream of SAM biosynthesis. These findings, if reproducible in humans, can be used to lower cancer risk within the general population.

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