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Int J Oncol. 2016 Sep;49(3):1019-27. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3598. Epub 2016 Jul 4.

Curcumin inhibits invasive capabilities through epithelial mesenchymal transition in breast cancer cell lines.

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Instituto de Alta Investigación, Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Chile.


Curcumin (diferuloyl methane) is an antioxidant that exerts antiproliferative and apoptotic effects and has anti-invasive and anti-metastatic properties. Evidence strongly implicates that epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is involved in malignant progression affecting genes such as Slug, AXL and Twist1. These genes are abnormally expressed in many tumors and favor metastasis. The purpose of this study was to determine the potential effect of curcumin on EMT, migration and invasion. Triple-positive and triple-negative breast cancer cell lines for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR) and HER/neu were used: i) MCF-10F, a normal immortalized breast epithelial cell line (negative), ii) Tumor2, a malignant and tumorigenic cell line (positive) derived from Alpha5 cell line injected into the immunologically depressed mice and transformed by 60/60 cGy doses of high LET (linear energy transfer) α particles (150 keV/µm) of radiation and estrogen, and iii) a commercially available MDA-MB‑231 (negative). The effect of curcumin (30 µM for 48 h) was evaluated on expression of EMT-related genes by RT-qPCR. Results showed that curcumin decreased E-cadherin, N-cadherin, β-catenin, Slug, AXL, Twist1, Vimentin and Fibronectin protein expression, independently of the positivity of the markers in the cell lines. Curcumin also decreased migration and invasive capabilities in comparison to their own controls. It can be concluded that curcumin influenced biochemical changes associated with EMT-related genes that seems to promote such transition and are at the core of several signaling pathways that mediate the transition. Thus, it can be suggested that curcumin is able to prevent or delay cancer progression through the interruption of this process.

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