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Ophthalmic Res. 2018;59(2):98-109. doi: 10.1159/000481261. Epub 2017 Oct 27.

Modulation of the Proteasome Pathway by Nano-Curcumin and Curcumin in Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells.

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Ocular Angiogenesis Group, Department of Ophthalmology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Curcumin has multiple biological effects including the modulation of protein homeostasis by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The purpose of this study was to assess the in vitro cytotoxic and oxidative effects of nano-curcumin and standard curcumin and characterize their effects on proteasome regulation in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.


Viability, cell cycle progression, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production were determined after treatment with nano-curcumin or curcumin. Subsequently, the effects of nano-curcumin and curcumin on proteasome activity and the gene and protein expression of proteasome subunits PA28α, α7, β5, and β5i were assessed.


Nano-curcumin (5-100 μM) did not show significant cytotoxicity or anti-oxidative effects against H2O2-induced oxidative stress, whereas curcumin (≥10 μM) was cytotoxic and a potent inducer of ROS production. Both nano-curcumin and curcumin induced changes in proteasome-mediated proteolytic activity characterized by increased activity of the proteasome subunits β2 and β5i/β1 and reduced activity of β5/β1i. Likewise, nano-curcumin and curcumin affected mRNA and protein levels of household and immunoproteasome subunits.


Nano-curcumin is less toxic to RPE cells and less prone to induce ROS production than curcumin. Both nano-curcumin and curcumin increase proteasome-mediated proteolytic activity. These results suggest that nano-curcumin may be regarded as a proteasome-modulating agent of limited cytotoxicity for RPE cells.


Curcumin; Nano-curcumin; Proteasome; Retinal pigment epithelium

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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