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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2010 Aug;3(8):953-62. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0247. Epub 2010 Jul 6.

New role of (-)-epicatechin in enhancing the induction of growth inhibition and apoptosis in human lung cancer cells by curcumin.

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Tokushima Bunri University, Japan.


Curcumin, a phenolic compound isolated from the plant Curcuma longa (Linn), is ingested every day in the Indian subcontinent and is well reported to possess cancer-preventive activity. To achieve effective cancer prevention with curcumin, we need to find a new method to enhance the effects of curcumin in the diet. Based on our evidence that (-)-epicatechin (EC), an inert catechin, enhances the cancer-preventive activity of green tea catechins, we studied the enhancing effects of EC on inductions of growth inhibition and apoptosis in human lung cancer cell lines PC-9 and A549 with curcumin. The combination of curcumin with EC significantly increased the inhibition of cell growth compared with curcumin or EC alone. The combination similarly increased both apoptosis and expression of GADD153 and GADD45 genes, associated with their enhanced protein production. Knockdown of GADD153 or GADD45 by small interfering RNA abrogated the apoptosis induction and growth inhibition induced by the combination, indicating the crucial role of their upregulation. Treatments of PC-9 cells with c-Jun-NH(2)-kinase inhibitor SP600125, with p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor SB202190 and with PD98059 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 inhibitor) all increased the upregulation of GADD153 and GADD45 genes by the combination. Because EC was previously shown to enhance the incorporation of EGCG into PC-9 cells, we think that EC has similar effects on curcumin. This report is the first report on the enhancing effects of EC on curcumin, and the data suggest that EC plays a significant role in the enhancement of the cancer-preventive activity of curcumin in the diet.

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