The molecular mechanisms for the antitumorigenic effect of curcumin

Tzeng-Horng Leu, Ming Chei Maa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

145 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Curcumin, an active yellow pigment of turmeric and curry, possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and anticarcinogenic properties. Analysis of its structure revealed the presence of β-diketone moiety and phenolic hydroxy groups that were believed to contribute to antioxidation. And vanillin, ferulic acid and a dimer of curcumin were identified as the curcumin-derived radical reaction products. In addition to antioxidation, curcumin could also induce apoptosis by targeting mitochondria, affecting p53-related signaling and blocking NF-κB activation. To further dissect its anticarcinogenic mechanisms, a number of curcumin targets were identified. These included the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, cytochrome P450, glutathione S-transferase, serine/threonine kinases, transcription factors, cyclooxygenase, ornithine decarboxylase, nitric oxide synthase, matrix metalloproteinases and tyrosine kinases. This review will summarize our current knowledge on how these important proteins are affected by curcumin, and hopefully, may provide a whole picture illustrating how the chemopreventive and antitumorigenic effect of curcumin is achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry - Anti-Cancer Agents
Volume2
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jun 27

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research

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