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Oncol Lett. 2018 May;15(5):6777-6783. doi: 10.3892/ol.2018.8112. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

Curcumin differentially affects cell cycle and cell death in acute and chronic myeloid leukemia cells.

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Department of Molecular Biomedicine, Center of Studies and Advance Research, 07360 Mexico City, Mexico.
Section of Research and Postgraduate, Superior School of Medicine, National Institute Polytechnique, Plan de San Luis S/N, Miguel Hidalgo, Casco de Santo Tomás, 11350 Mexico City, Mexico.
Faculty of Medicine, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), AP, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico.
Unit of Genomic Medicine, Hospital General, 06720 Mexico City, Mexico.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550, USA.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, CA 95817, USA.
National Institute of Genomic Medicine, Clinic Research, 14610 Mexico City, Mexico.


Curcumin is a phytochemical with potent anti-neoplastic properties. The antitumoral effects of curcumin in cells derived from chronic or acute myeloid leukemia have been already described. However, a comparative study of the cytostatic and cytotoxic effects of curcumin on chronic and acute myeloid leukemia cells has not yet been performed. In the present study, the cellular effects of curcumin on cell lines derived from chronic or acute myeloid leukemia were examined. Dose and time-response assays were performed with curcumin on HL-60 and K562 cells. Cell viability was evaluated with trypan blue exclusion test and cell death by flow cytometry using a fluorescent molecular probe. A cell cycle profile was analyzed, and protein markers of cell cycle progression and cell death were investigated. In the present study, the K562 cells showed a higher sensitivity to the cytostatic and cytotoxic effects of curcumin compared with HL-60. In addition, curcumin induced G1 phase arrest in HL-60 cells and G2/M phase arrest in K562 cells. Furthermore, curcumin-related cell death in HL-60 was associated with the processed forms of caspases-9 and -3 proteins, whereas in K562 cells, both the processed and the unprocessed forms were present. Accordingly, activity of these caspases was significantly higher in HL-60 cells compared with that in K562. In conclusion, curcumin elicits different cellular mechanisms in chronic or acute myeloid leukemia cells and the powerful antitumoral effect was more potent in K562 compared with HL-60 cells.


HL-60; K562; apoptosis; cell cycle; chemoprevention; curcumin; leukemia

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