Synergic effect of curcumin or lycopene with irradiation upon oral squamous cell carcinoma cells


Correspondence: Fabio Camacho-Alonso, DDS, PhD, Clínica Odontológica Universitaria, Unidad Docente de Medicina Bucal, Hospital Morales Meseguer (2 planta), Avda. Marqués de los Vélez s/n, 30008 Murcia, Spain. Tel: +34868888589, Fax: +34868888576; E-mail:



An in vitro study was carried out to evaluate the effect of curcumin, lycopene, and irradiation upon oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).

Materials and methods

Curcumin and lycopene were administrated at doses of 3, 4.25, 5.50, and 6.75 μM in PE/CA-PJ15 OSCC cultures irradiated with different doses (1, 2.5, and 5 Gy), followed by evaluation of the effects upon cell viability, apoptosis, and migration after 24, 48, and 72 h of incubation.


The application of curcumin or lycopene to the tumor cells during 24, 48, and 72 h without irradiation exerted an inhibitor effect upon cell viability and increased cell apoptosis. The maximum reduction in cell viability and the peak apoptotic effect was recorded with the 5.50 and 6.75 μM doses, for both curcumin and lycopene. Likewise, curcumin and lycopene exerted a synergic effect upon both variables on applying irradiation. Lastly, the 5.50 and 6.75 μM drug doses, together with 5 Gy of irradiation, yielded the greatest decrease in cell migration capacity with both curcumin and lycopene.


Curcumin and lycopene increase cytotoxic activity in the PE/CA-PJ15 cell line and reduce cell migration capacity, while the combination of curcumin or lycopene with irradiation exerts a synergic effect.