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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Apr 9;394(3):476-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2010.01.132. Epub 2010 Feb 6.

Modulation of curcumin-induced Akt phosphorylation and apoptosis by PI3K inhibitor in MCF-7 cells.

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Cell Signaling Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, P.O. Box 17666, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.


Curcumin has been shown to induce apoptosis in various malignant cancer cell lines. One mechanism of curcumin-induced apoptosis is through the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Akt, also known as protein kinase B (PKB), is a member of the family of phosphatidylinositol 3-OH-kinase regulated Ser/Thr kinases. The active Akt regulates cell survival and proliferation; and inhibits apoptosis. In this study we found that curcumin induces apoptotic cell death in MCF-7 cells, as assessed by MTT assay, DNA ladder formation, PARP cleavage, p53 and Bax induction. At apoptotic inducing concentration, curcumin induces a dramatic Akt phosphorylation, accompanied by an increased phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3beta), which has been considered to be a pro-growth signaling molecule. Combining curcumin with PI3K inhibitor, LY290042, synergizes the apoptotic effect of curcumin. The inhibitor LY290042 was capable of attenuating curcumin-induced Akt phosphorylation and activation of GSK3beta. All together, our data suggest that blocking the PI3K/Akt survival pathway sensitizes the curcumin-induced apoptosis in MCF-7 cells.

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