Fatty acids play essential roles in the growth and metastasis of cancer cells. To facilitate their avid growth and proliferation, cancer cells not only alter the fatty acid synthesis and metabolism intracellularly and extracellularly, but also in the macroenvironment via direct or indirect pathways. We report here, using Raman micro-spectroscopy, that an increase in the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) was identified in both cancerous and normal appearing breast tissue obtained from breast cancer patients and tumor-bearing rats. By minimizing confounding effects from mixed chemicals and optimizing the signal-to-noise ratio of Raman spectra, we observed a large-scale transition from monounsaturated fatty acids to PUFAs in the tumor while only a small subset of fatty acids transitioned to PUFAs in the tumor micro- and macroenvironment. These data have important implications for further clarifying the macroenvironmental effect of cancer progression and provide new potential approaches for characterizing the tumor micro- and macroenvironment of breast cancer in both pre-clinical animal studies and clinical applications.
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