JOURNAL ARTICLE

Molecular mechanisms of curcumin-induced cytotoxicity: induction of apoptosis through generation of reactive oxygen species, down-regulation of Bcl-XL and IAP, the release of cytochrome c and inhibition of Akt

Ju-Hyung Woo, Young-Ho Kim, Yun-Jung Choi, Dae-Gon Kim, Kyung-Seop Lee, Jae Hoon Bae, Do Sik Min, Jong-Soo Chang, Yong-Jin Jeong, Young Han Lee, Jong-Wook Park, Taeg Kyu Kwon
Carcinogenesis 2003, 24 (7): 1199-208
12807727
Curcumin, a natural, biologically active compound extracted from rhizomes of Curcuma species, has been shown to possess potent anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidative properties. The mechanism by which curcumin initiates apoptosis remains poorly understood. In the present report we investigated the effect of curcumin on the activation of the apoptotic pathway in human renal Caki cells. Treatment of Caki cells with 50 microM curcumin resulted in the activation of caspase 3, cleavage of phospholipase C-gamma1 and DNA fragmentation. Curcumin-induced apoptosis is mediated through the activation of caspase, which is specifically inhibited by the caspase inhibitor, benzyloxycarbony-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone. Curcumin causes dose-dependent apoptosis and DNA fragmentation of Caki cells, which is preceded by the sequential dephosphorylation of Akt, down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, Bcl-XL and IAP proteins, release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase 3. Cyclosporin A, as well as caspase inhibitor, specifically inhibit curcumin-induced apoptosis in Caki cells. Pre-treatment with N-acetyl-cysteine, markedly prevented dephosphorylation of Akt, and cytochrome c release, and cell death, suggesting a role for reactive oxygen species in this process. The data indicate that curcumin can cause cell damage by inactivating the Akt-related cell survival pathway and release of cytochrome c, providing a new mechanism for curcumin-induced cytotoxicity.

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