Molecular Medicine Israel

Phospholipids with two polyunsaturated fatty acyl tails promote ferroptosis


  • Dietary PC-PUFA2s induce ferroptosis in various cancer cell lines
  • Dietary PUFA selectively increases PC-PUFA2 accumulation in cells
  • PL-PUFA2s exhibit interaction with mitochondrial ETC complex I
  • PC-PUFA2s induce mitochondrial ROS production essential for ferroptosis


Phospholipids containing a single polyunsaturated fatty acyl tail (PL-PUFA1s) are considered the driving force behind ferroptosis, whereas phospholipids with diacyl-PUFA tails (PL-PUFA2s) have been rarely characterized. Dietary lipids modulate ferroptosis, but the mechanisms governing lipid metabolism and ferroptosis sensitivity are not well understood. Our research revealed a significant accumulation of diacyl-PUFA phosphatidylcholines (PC-PUFA2s) following fatty acid or phospholipid treatments, correlating with cancer cell sensitivity to ferroptosis. Depletion of PC-PUFA2s occurred in aging and Huntington’s disease brain tissue, linking it to ferroptosis. Notably, PC-PUFA2s interacted with the mitochondrial electron transport chain, generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) for initiating lipid peroxidation. Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants protected cells from PC-PUFA2-induced mitochondrial ROS (mtROS), lipid peroxidation, and cell death. These findings reveal a critical role for PC-PUFA2s in controlling mitochondria homeostasis and ferroptosis in various contexts and explain the ferroptosis-modulating mechanisms of free fatty acids. PC-PUFA2s may serve as diagnostic and therapeutic targets for modulating ferroptosis.

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