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Laryngoscope. 2009 Oct;119(10):2019-26. doi: 10.1002/lary.20582.

Curcumin: a potential radio-enhancer in head and neck cancer.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Tel Aviv University School of Medicine, 6 Weizmann Street, Tel Aviv, Israel.



To investigate whether curcumin enhances the cytotoxic effect of radiotherapy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).


HNSCC cell lines SCC-1, SCC-9, KB, as well as A431 cell line were treated with curcumin, irradiation, or their combination. Cell viability was evaluated by XTT assay. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR), and p-Erk1/2 were measured by Western blot analysis. CD-1 athymic nude mice with orthotopic implanted SCC-1 cells, were treated with control diet, curcumin containing diet, local single-dose radiation, or combination.


Curcumin (IC50 range, 15-22 microM) and radiation inhibited cell viability in all cell lines were tested. The combination of curcumin and radiation resulted in additive effect. Curcumin decreased COX-2 expression and inhibited phosphorylation of EGFR in SCC-1 cells. In tumor-bearing mice the combination regimen showed a decrease in both tumor weight (25%, P = .09) and tumor size (15%, P = .23) compared to the nontreated mice.


: Curcumin inhibited HNSCC cell growth and augmented the effect of radiation in vitro and in vivo. A possible mechanism is inhibition of COX-2 expression and EGFR phosphorylation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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