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Cancer Biol Ther. 2015;16(1):60-5. doi: 10.4161/15384047.2014.986997.

Curcumin induces cell death of the main molecular myeloma subtypes, particularly the poor prognosis subgroups.

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a INSERM, UMR892 - CNRS; UMR 6299; Université de Nantes ; Nantes , France.


Multiple myeloma (MM), a plasma cell malignancy, remains incurable despite the development of new therapies. Curcumin anti-tumor effects were previously characterized in multiple myeloma, however only few MM cell lines were included in these studies. Since myeloma is a heterogeneous disease it is important to address the impact of myeloma molecular heterogeneity in curcumin cell death induction. In the present study, a large panel of human myeloma cell lines (HMCLs) (n = 29), representing the main molecular MM subgroups, was screened for curcumin sensitivity. We observed that curcumin cell death induction was heterogeneous, of note 16 HMCLs were highly sensitive to curcumin (LD50 < 20.5 μM), 6 HMCLs exhibited intermediate LD50 values (20.5 μM ≤ LD50 < 32.2 μM) and only 7 HMCLs were weakly sensitive (35 < LD50 < 56 μM). Cell lines harboring the t(11;14) translocation were less sensitive (median LD50 32.9 μM) than non-t(11;14) (median LD50 17.9 μM), which included poor prognosis t(4;14) and t(14;16) cells. Interestingly, curcumin sensitivity was not dependent on TP53 status. For the first time we showed that primary myeloma cells were also sensitive, even those displaying del(17p), another poor prognosis factor. We also unravel the contribution of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family molecules in curcumin response. We found that down-regulation of Mcl-1, an essential MM survival factor, was associated with curcumin-induced cell death and its knockdown sensitized myeloma cells to curcumin, highlighting Mcl-1 as an important target for curcumin-induced apoptosis. Altogether, these results support clinical trials including curcumin in association with standard therapy.


Bcl-2 molecules; CCND, Cyclin D; HMCLs, human myeloma cell line(s); MM, multiple myeloma; Mcl-1; Myeloma; apoptosis; curcumin

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