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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:227-43.

Molecular targets of curcumin.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Curcumin possesses anti-inflammatory activity and is a potent inhibitor of reactive-oxygen-generating enzymes such as lipoxygenase/cyclooxygenase, xanthine dehydrogenase/oxidase, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS); it is an effective inducer of heme oxygenase-1. Curcumin is also a potent inhibitor of protein kinase C (PKC), EGF-receptor tyrosine kinase, and IkappaB kinase. Subsequently, curcumin inhibits the activation of NF-KB and the expressions of oncogenes including c-jun, c-fos, c-myc, NIK, MAPKs, ERK, ELK, PI3K, Akt, CDKs, and iNOS. It is considered that PKC, mTOR, and EGFR tyrosine kinase are the major upstream molecular targest for curcumin intervention, whereas the nuclear oncogenes such as c-jun, c-fos, c-myc, CDKs, FAS, and iNOS might act as downstream molecular targets for curcumin actions. It is proposed that curcumin might suppress tumor promotion through blocking signal transduction pathways in the target cells. The oxidant tumor promoter TPA activates PKC by reacting with zinc thiolates present within the regulatory domain, whereas the oxidized form of cancer chemopreventive agent such as curcumin can inactivate PKC by oxidizing the vicinal thiols present within the catalytic domain. Recent studies indicated that proteasome-mediated degradation of cell proteins play a pivotal role in the regulation of several basic cellular processes, including differentiation, proliferation, cell cycling, and apoptosis. It has been demonstrated that curcumin-induced apoptosis is mediated through the impairment of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway.

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