Dietary Lipids Induce Ferroptosis in Caenorhabditis elegans and Human Cancer Cells

Dietary lipids impact development, homeostasis, and disease, but links between specific dietary fats and cell fates are poorly understood. Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent form of nonapoptotic cell death associated with oxidized polyunsaturated phospholipids. Here, we show that dietary ingestion of the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA; 20:3n-6) can trigger germ-cell ferroptosis and sterility in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Exogenous DGLA is also sufficient to induce ferroptosis in human cells, pinpointing this omega-6 PUFA as a conserved metabolic instigator of this lethal process. In both C. elegans and human cancer cells, ether-lipid synthesis protects against ferroptosis. These results establish C. elegans as a powerful animal model to study the induction and modulation of ferroptosis by dietary fats and indicate that endogenous ether lipids act to prevent this nonapoptotic cell fate.