Curcumin in Cancer Chemoprevention: Molecular Targets, Pharmacokinetics, Bioavailability, and Clinical Trials

Authors

  • Adeeb Shehzad,

    1. School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Taegu, Korea
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  • Fazli Wahid,

    1. School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Taegu, Korea
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  • Young Sup Lee

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Taegu, Korea
    • School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences, Kyungpook National University, 1370 Sangeok-dong, Buk-ku, Daegu 702-701, Korea. Fax: +82-53-943-2762
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Abstract

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a derivative of turmeric is one of the most commonly used and highly researched phytochemicals. Abundant sources provide interesting insights into the multiple mechanisms by which curcumin may mediate chemotherapy and chemopreventive effects on cancer. The pleiotropic role of this dietary compound includes the inhibition of several cell signaling pathways at multiple levels, such as transcription factors (NF-κB and AP-1), enzymes (COX-2, MMPs), cell cycle arrest (cyclin D1), proliferation (EGFR and Akt), survival pathways (β-catenin and adhesion molecules), and TNF. Curcumin up-regulates caspase family proteins and down-regulates anti-apoptotic genes (Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL). In addition, cDNA microarrays analysis adds a new dimension for molecular responses of cancer cells to curcumin at the genomic level. Although, curcumin's poor absorption and low systemic bioavailability limits the access of adequate concentrations for pharmacological effects in certain tissues, active levels in the gastrointestinal tract have been found in animal and human pharmacokinetic studies. Currently, sufficient data has been shown to advocate phase II and phase III clinical trials of curcumin for a variety of cancer conditions including multiple myeloma, pancreatic, and colon cancer.

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