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Carcinogenesis. 1997 Jan;18(1):83-8.

Inhibitory effects of topical application of low doses of curcumin on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced tumor promotion and oxidized DNA bases in mouse epidermis.

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Department of Chemical Biology, College of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway 08855-0789, USA.


The effects of topical applications of very low doses of curcumin (the major yellow pigment in turmeric and the Indian food curry) on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced oxidation of DNA bases in the epidermis and on tumor promotion in mouse skin were investigated. CD-1 mice were treated topically with 200 nmol of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene followed one week later by 5 nmol of TPA alone or together with 1, 10, 100 or 3000 nmol of curcumin twice a week for 20 weeks. Curcumin-mediated effects on TPA-induced formation of the oxidized DNA base 5-hydroxymethyl-2'-deoxyuridine (HMdU) and tumor formation were determined. All dose levels of curcumin inhibited the mean values of TPA-induced HMdU formation in epidermal DNA (62-77% inhibition), but only the two highest doses of curcumin strongly inhibited TPA-induced tumor promotion (62-79% inhibition of tumors per mouse and tumor volume per mouse). In a second experiment, topical application of 20 or 100 nmol (but not 10 nmol) of curcumin together with 5 nmol TPA twice a week for 18 weeks markedly inhibited TPA-induced tumor promotion. Curcumin had a strong inhibitory effect on DNA and RNA synthesis (IC50 = 0.5-1 microM) in cultured HeLa cells, but there was little or no effect on protein synthesis.

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