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Med Sci (Basel). 2017 Dec 18;5(4). pii: E38. doi: 10.3390/medsci5040038.

Regulation of Polyamine Metabolism by Curcumin for Cancer Prevention and Therapy.

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Johns Hopkins University, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.
Johns Hopkins University, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), the natural polyphenol responsible for the characteristic yellow pigment of the spice turmeric (Curcuma longa), is traditionally known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties. Capable of affecting the initiation, promotion, and progression of carcinogenesis through multiple mechanisms, curcumin has potential utility for both chemoprevention and chemotherapy. In human cancer cell lines, curcumin has been shown to decrease ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity, a rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis that is frequently upregulated in cancer and other rapidly proliferating tissues. Numerous studies have demonstrated that pretreatment with curcumin can abrogate carcinogen-induced ODC activity and tumor development in rodent tumorigenesis models targeting various organs. This review summarizes the results of curcumin exposure with regard to the modulation of polyamine metabolism and discusses the potential utility of this natural compound in conjunction with the exploitation of dysregulated polyamine metabolism in chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic settings.


NF-κB; carcinogenesis; chemoprevention; curcumin; diferuloylmethane; ornithine decarboxylase; polyamine; polyphenol

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.

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