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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:245-68.

Cell growth regulation.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Chennai, India.


Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric (Curcuma longa) used in culinary and medical practices in Asia, has immense potential for being used in cancer chemotherapy because of its control over the cell growth regulatory mechanisms. The present chapter throws light on the role of curcumin in modulating the various phases of the cell cycle and its apoptosis-inducing effects. This is followed by a discussion on the implications of these effects of curcumin for its use as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer. Curcumin affects various cell cycle proteins and checkpoints involving downregulation of some of the cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases, upregulation of cdk inhibitors, and inhibition of DNA synthesis. In addition, curcumin also exerts indirect control over cell division such as inhibition of telomerase activity. Remarkably, some studies point toward a selective growth-inhibitory effect of curcumin on transformed cell lines compared to nontransformed cell lines. Curcumin has also been demonstrated to have proapoptotic effects in several in vitro studies, mostly through the mitochondria-mediated pathway of apoptosis. Curcumin-mediated regulation of apoptosis involves caspases, Bcl2 family members, inhibitors of apoptosis proteins, and heat shock proteins. The accumulating data on the in vitro and in vivo actions of curcumin together with the ongoing human clinical trials will provide a better understanding of curcumin-mediated cell growth regulation, ultimately catering to the needs of human welfare.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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