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DNA Cell Biol. 2012 Feb;31(2):139-50. doi: 10.1089/dna.2011.1300. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Curcumin induces small cell lung cancer NCI-H446 cell apoptosis via the reactive oxygen species-mediated mitochondrial pathway and not the cell death receptor pathway.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Liaoning Cancer Hospital and Institute, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China.


Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), an active component of the spice turmeric, induces apoptosis in several types of malignancies. However, little is known about its anticancer activity in small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC represents a highly malignant and particularly aggressive form of cancer, with early and widespread metastases and a poor prognosis. In this study, we found that curcumin does not activate caspase-8 cleavage or alter the expression of apoptotic receptors FAS and TRAIL in NCI-H446 cells, suggesting that curcumin-induced apoptosis is not associated with death receptor-mediated pathways in these cells. Instead, curcumin caused apoptosis by increasing Bax expression while decreasing the expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. Curcumin induced a rapid decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol, followed by activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. In addition, curcumin-induced apoptosis was accompanied by an increase of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level. These results indicated that a ROS-mediated mitochondrial pathway played an important role in the process of curcumin-induced apoptosis of human SCLC NCI-H446 cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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