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Pharm Res. 2011 Apr;28(4):827-38. doi: 10.1007/s11095-010-0336-y. Epub 2010 Dec 14.

Difluorinated-curcumin (CDF): a novel curcumin analog is a potent inhibitor of colon cancer stem-like cells.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.



Recurrence of colon cancer, which affects nearly 50% of patients treated by conventional therapeutics, is thought to be due to re-emergence of chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem/stem-like cells (CSCs). Therefore, development of therapeutic strategies for targeted elimination of CSCs would be a novel strategy. The current study examines whether difluorinated-curcumin (CDF), a novel analog of the dietary ingredient of curcumin, in combination with 5-fluorouracil and oxaliplatin (5-FU + Ox), the mainstay of colon cancer chemotherapeutic, would be effective in eliminating colon CSCs.


Multiple methodologies that include real-time RT-PCR, Western blot, MTT assay, caspase-3 activity, colonosphere formation, Hoechst-33342 dye exclusion and NF-κB-ELISA were used.


We observed that CDF together with 5-FU + Ox were more potent than curcumin in reducing CD44 and CD166 in chemo-resistant colon cancer cells, accompanied by inhibition of growth, induction of apoptosis and disintegration of colonospheres. These changes were associated with down-regulation of the membrane transporter ABCG2 and attenuation of EGFR, IGF-1R, and NF-κB signaling consistent with inactivation of β-catenin, COX-2, c-Myc and Bcl-xL and activation of the pro-apoptotic Bax.


Our results suggest that CDF together with the conventional chemotherapeutics could be an effective treatment strategy for preventing the emergence of chemo-resistant colon cancer cells by eliminating CSCs.

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