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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Sep;52(9):1040-61. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700280.

New mechanisms and therapeutic potential of curcumin for colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Seville, Seville, Spain.


Curcumin is a polyphenol derived from Curcuma longa. Over the last few years, a number of studies have provided evidence of its main pharmacological properties including chemosensitizing, radiosensitizing, wound healing activities, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungical, immunomodulatory, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. More recent data provide interesting insights into the effect of this compound on cancer chemoprevention and chemotherapy. In fact, preclinical studies have shown its ability to inhibit carcinogenesis in various types of cancer including colorectal cancer (CRC). Curcumin has the capacity of interact with multiple molecular targets affecting the multistep process of carcinogenesis. Also, curcumin is able to arrest the cell cycle, to inhibit the inflammatory response and the oxidative stress and to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Likewise, it has been shown to possess marked antiangiogenic properties. Furthermore, curcumin potentiates the growth inhibitory effect of cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors and traditional chemotherapy agents implicating another promising therapy regimen in the future treatment of CRC. However, its clinical advance has been hindered by its short biological half-life and low bioavailability after oral administration. This review is intended to provide the reader an update of the bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of curcumin and describes the recently identified molecular pathways responsible of its anticancer potential in CRC.

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