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Toxicol Lett. 2007 May 15;170(3):238-47. Epub 2007 Mar 24.

Curcumin activates human glutathione S-transferase P1 expression through antioxidant response element.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Osaka Ohtani University, 3-11-1 Nishikiori-kita, Tondabayashi, Osaka 584-8540, Japan.


Curcumin is a plant-derived diferuloylmethane compound extracted from Curcuma longa, possessing antioxidative and anticarcinogenic properties. Antioxidants and oxidative stress are known to induce the expression of certain classes of detoxification enzymes. Since the upregulation of detoxifying enzymes affects the drug metabolism and cell defense system, it is important to understand the gene regulation by such agents. In this study, we demonstrated that curcumin could induce the expression of human glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1). In HepG2 cells treated with 20muM curcumin, the level of GSTP1 mRNA was significantly increased. In luciferase reporter assays, curcumin augmented the promoter activity of a reporter construct carrying 336bp upstream of the 5'-flanking region of the GSTP1 gene. Mutation analyses revealed that the region including antioxidant response element (ARE), which overlaps AP1 in sequence, was essential to the response to curcumin. While the introduction of a wild-type Nrf2 expression construct augmented the promoter activity of the GSTP1 gene, co-expression of a dominant-negative Nrf2 abolished the responsiveness to curcumin. In addition, curcumin activated the expression of the luciferase gene from a reporter construct carrying multiple ARE consensus sequences but not one with multiple AP1 sites. In a gel mobility shift assay with an oligonucleotide with GSTP1 ARE, an increase in the amount of the binding complex was observed in the nuclear extracts of curcumin-treated HepG2 cells. These results suggested that ARE is the primary sequence for the curcumin-induced transactivation of the GSTP1 gene. The induction of GSTP1 may be one of the mechanisms underlying the multiple actions of curcumin.

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