Caprylic (Octanoic) Acid as a Potential Fatty Acid Chemotherapeutic for Glioblastoma

M.A. Altinoz*, A. Ozpinar, T.N. Seyfried

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


High grade glial tumors (HGGs) including anaplastic astrocytoma (WHO Grade-III) and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM, WHO Grade-IV) are among the most malignant cancers known to man. Due to their defective mitochondria, HGG cells consume glucose via glycolysis even in the presence of oxygen. Overall survival is worse in HGG patients that are hyperglycemic. Unlike normal neural cells, HGG cells cannot efficiently metabolize ketone bodies for energy. Thus, a metabolic treatment based on therapeutic ketosis (reduced glucose with elevated ketone bodies) was proposed to treat GBM and was supoported from preclinical studies. Caprylic (octanoic) acid, a monocarboxylated saturated fatty acid, is among the best producers of ketone bodies and induces necrosis of experimental tumors at high dose. Caprylic acid is enriched in coconut and in goat's milk. It is also a post-translational modifier of the ghrelin hormone and is produced in trace amounts in human tissues. Caprylic acid is a straight-chain isomer of the antiepileptic valproic acid, which is used in treatment of HGG-associated seizures and which may increase survival in GBM patients according to epidemiological observations. Among the valproic acids analogs tested, caprylic acid is the most potent molecule to block C6 astrocytoma cell growth in vitro and accumulates selectively within glial cells as shown by Positron Emission Tomography in vivo. Caprylic acid blocks glycolysis both in healthy liver and in malignant liver cells, which is more prominent in the latter and also lowers blood glucose. Noteworthy, caprylic acid exerts neuroprotective- and mitochondria-protective effects in several models of neurodegenerative diseases. Boost injections of caprylic acid at non-toxic levels during classical ketogenic metabolic therapy may fortify antitumor actions and reduce systemic toxicity by differential programming of mitochondrial and other metabolic pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102142
Number of pages8
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • caprylate
  • caprylic
  • cells
  • decanoic acids
  • glial tumor
  • glioblastoma
  • glioma
  • glycolytic-enzymes
  • hyperglycemia
  • inhibition
  • ketogenic diet
  • metabolic therapy
  • octanoate
  • octanoic
  • pet tracer
  • triglyceride
  • Caprylate
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glial tumor
  • Caprylic
  • Octanoate
  • Octanoic

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