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Anticancer Res. 2015 Feb;35(2):645-51.

Potential anticancer properties and mechanisms of action of curcumin.

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Evangelismos General Hospital, Athens, Greece
Roche Diagnostics, Athens, Greece.
Evangelismos General Hospital, Athens, Greece.
Leicester University, Samos, Greece.


Curcumin, a yellow substance belonging to the polyphenols superfamily, is the active component of turmeric, a common Indian spice, which is derived from the dried rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant. Numerous studies have demonstrated that curcumin possesses anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancerous properties. The purpose of this review is to focus on the anti-tumor effects of curcumin. Curcumin inhibits the STAT3 and NF-κB signaling pathways, which play key-roles in cancer development and progression. Also, inhibition of Sp-1 and its housekeeping gene expressions may serve as an important hypothesis to prevent cancer formation, migration, and invasion. Recent data have suggested that curcumin may act by suppressing the Sp-1 activation and its downstream genes, including ADEM10, calmodulin, EPHB2, HDAC4, and SEPP1 in a concentration-dependent manner in colorectal cancer cell lines; these results are consistent with other studies, which have reported that curcumin could suppress the Sp-1 activity in bladder cancer and could decrease DNA binding activity of Sp-1 in non-small cell lung carcinoma cells. Recent data advocate that ER stress and autophagy may as well play a role in the apoptosis process, which is induced by the curcumin analogue B19 in an epithelial ovarian tumor cell line and that autophagy inhibition could increase curcumin analogue-induced apoptosis by inducing severe ER stress. The ability of curcumin to induce apoptosis in tumor cells and its anti-angiogenic potential will be discussed in this review.


Curcumin; anti-cancer properties; autophagy; bioavailability; review; transcription factors

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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