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J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Oct 3;55(20):8213-22. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

Curcuminoids-cellular uptake by human primary colon cancer cells as quantitated by a sensitive HPLC assay and its relation with the inhibition of proliferation and apoptosis.

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  • 1InnovaTherapeutics Research Center, College of Pharmacy, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


Curcumin, which is a bright orange-yellow pigment of turmeric with antioxidant properties, has been shown to produce a potent preventative action against several types of cancers in recent studies. It has also been reported to protect the development of colon tumor in animals being fed with carcinogen. In the colon cancer cells, curcumin was illustrated to inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis. As an antioxidant, it acts as an anti-inflammatory as well as an antitumor agent. Curcumin has been detected to exist in nature in the form of curcuminoids, a mixture of curcumin, the major component, with two of its related demethoxy compounds (demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin). In the present study, we have investigated the antiproliferation and induced apoptosis effects of curcuminoids on colon cancer, using the primary cancer cells isolated from Taiwanese colon cancer patients as the model for colorectal cancer. Results showed that curcuminoids inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis of these human primary colon cancer cells. The effects were observed in a dose-dependent manner as dose increased from 12.5 to 100 microM. With the aim of furthering the fundamental understanding of the mechanisms underlying the antiproliferation and induced apoptosis effects of curcuminoids on these human colon cancer cells, we developed a sensitive, rapid, and reproducible assay method based on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). This HPLC technique developed was found to successfully determine, in a quantitative manner, the cellular uptake of curcuminoids. The uptake of these curcuminoids by the colon cancer cells was shown to increase as the dose of curcuminoids was increased. The observations of inhibited proliferation and increased apoptosis in the colon cancer cells appeared to be associated with the cellular uptake of curcuminoids.

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