Scope: Tetrahydrocurcumin (THC), a major metabolite of curcumin (CUR), has been demonstrated to be anti-cancerogenic and anti-angiogenic and prevents type II diabetes. In this present study, we investigated the chemopreventive effects and underlying molecular mechanisms of dietary administration of CUR and THC in azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon carcinogenesis in mice.
Methods and results: All mice were sacrificed at 6 and 23 wk, and colonic tissue was collected and examined. We found that dietary administration of both CUR and THC could reduce aberrant crypt foci and polyps formation, while THC showed a better inhibitory effect than CUR. At the molecular level, results from Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry staining showed that dietary CUR and THC exhibited anti-inflammatory activity by decreasing the levels of inducible NOS and COX-2 through downregulation of ERK1/2 activation. In addition, both dietary CUR and THC significantly decreased AOM-induced Wnt-1 and β-catenin protein expression, as well as the phosphorylation of GSK-3β in colonic tissue. Moreover, dietary feeding with CUR and THC markedly reduced the protein level of connexin-43, an important molecule of gap junctions, indicating that both CUR and THC might interfer with the intercellular communication of crypt cells.
Conclusion: Taken together, these results demonstrated for the first time the in vivo chemopreventive efficacy and molecular mechanisms of dietary THC against AOM-induced colonic tumorigenesis.