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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:173-84.

Antitumor, anti-invasion, and antimetastatic effects of curcumin.

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Department of Immunology, Amala Cancer Research Centre, Thrissur Kerala, India.


Curcumin was found to be cytotoxic in nature to a wide variety of tumor cell lines of different tissue origin. The action of curcumin is dependent on with the cell type, the concentration of curcumin (IC50: 2-40 microg/mL), and the time of the treatment. The major mechanism by which curcumin induces cytotoxicity is the induction of apoptosis. Curcumin decreased the expression of antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family and elevated the expression of p53, Bax, procaspases 3, 8, and 9. Curcumin prevents the entry of nuclear factor KB (NF-KB) into the nucleus there by decreasing the expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins and survival factors such as Bcl-2 and survivin. Curcumin arrested the cell cycle by preventing the expression of cyclin D1, cdk-1 and cdc-25. Curcumin inhibited the growth of transplantable tumors in different animal models and increased the life span of tumor-harboring animals. Curcumin inhibits metastasis of tumor cells as shown in in vitro as well as in vivo models, and the possible mechanism is the inhibition of matrix metalloproteases. Curcumin was found to suppress the expression of cyclooxygenase-2, vascular endothelial growth factor, and intercellular adhesion molecule- and elevated the expression of antimetastatic proteins, the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteases-2, nonmetastatic gene 23, and Ecadherin. These results indicate that curcumin acts at various stages of tumor cell progression.

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