Obesity induces numerous physiological changes that can impact cancer risk and patient response to therapy. Obese patients with cervical cancer have been reported to have superior outcomes following chemoradiotherapy, suggesting that free fatty acids (FFA) might enhance response to radiotherapy. Here, using preclinical models, we show that monounsaturated and diunsaturated FFAs (uFFA) radiosensitize cervical cancer through a novel p53-dependent mechanism. UFFAs signaled through PPARγ and p53 to promote lipid uptake, storage, and metabolism after radiotherapy. Stable isotope labeling confirmed that cervical cancer cells increase both catabolic and anabolic oleate metabolism in response to radiotherapy, with associated increases in dependence onmitochondrial fatty acid oxidation for survival. In vivo, supplementation with exogenous oleate suppressed tumor growth in xenografts after radiotherapy, an effect that could be partially mimicked in tumors from high fat diet-induced obese mice. These results suggest that supplementation with uFFAs may improve tumor responses to radiotherapy, particularly inp53wild-type tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4515-4527
Number of pages13
JournalCancer research
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


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