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Int J Oncol. 2012 Feb;40(2):436-42. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2011.1228. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Effect of curcumin on irradiated and estrogen-transformed human breast cell lines.

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


Curcumin (diferuloyl methane) is a well known antioxidant that exerts antiproliferative and apoptotic effects. Curcumin effect was evaluated in a breast cancer model that was developed using the immortalized breast epithelial cell line MCF-10F after exposure to low doses of high LET (linear energy transfer) α particles (150 keV/µm) of radiation, and subsequently cultured in the presence of 17β-estradiol (estrogen). This model consisted of human breast epithelial cells in different stages of transformation: i) MCF-10F; ii) Estrogen cell line; iii) a malignant Alpha3 cell line; iv) a malignant and tumorigenic, Alpha5 cell line; and v) a cell line derived from Alpha5 injected into the nude mice that gave rise to Tumor2 cell line. Curcumin decreased anchorage-independent growh in transformed breast cancer cell lines in comparison to their counterparts and increased the percentage of cells from G₀/G₁ with a concomitant increase in G₂/M phases, as well as a decrease in PCNA and Rho-A protein expression. Among the oncogenes, c-Ha-Ras and Ras homologous A (Rho-A) are important cell signaling factors for malignant transformation and to reach their active GTP bound state, Ras proteins must first release bound GDP mediated by a guanine nucleotide releasing factor (GRF). Then curcumin decrease RasGRF1 protein expression in malignant cell lines. Further, differential expression levels of cleaved (ADP) ribose polymerase 1 (PARP-1) and phosphorylated histone H2AX (γ-H2AX) were observed after curcumin treatment. It seems that PARP-1 similar to H2AX, confers cellular protection against radiation and estrogen-induced DNA damage mediated by curcumin. Therefore, targeting either PARP-1 or H2AX may provide an effective way of maximizing the therapeutic value of antioxidants for cancer prevention.

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