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Int J Cancer. 2006 Feb 1;118(3):765-72.

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits constitutive active NF-kappaB, leading to suppression of cell growth of human T-cell leukemia virus type I-infected T-cell lines and primary adult T-cell leukemia cells.

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Division of Molecular Virology and Oncology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Japan.

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Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is a fatal malignancy of T lymphocytes caused by infection with human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) and remains incurable. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), the major pigment of the spice turmeric, can be potentially effective by promoting cell apoptosis. Here we examined whether curcumin is effective in the treatment of ATL. Curcumin prevented cell growth of HTLV-I-infected T-cell lines and primary ATL cells but not of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Curcumin induced cell cycle arrest by reducing the expression of cyclin D1, Cdk1 and Cdc25C and apoptosis by reducing the expression of XIAP and survivin. Most of these genes are known to be regulated by NF-kappaB, which plays a critical role in oncogenesis by HTLV-I. Curcumin suppressed constitutive active NF-kappaB of HTLV-I-infected T-cell lines and primary ATL cells by inhibiting phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha. Curcumin also inhibited Tax-induced NF-kappaB transcriptional activity. However, curcumin-induced suppression of cell growth did not correlate with Tax expression level. Curcumin inhibited the growth of HTLV-I-infected T-cell tumors implanted subcutaneously in SCID mice. Our results indicate that curcumin has tumor-suppressive activity against ATL.

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