Curcumin enhances the effects of 5-fluorouracil and oxaliplatin in mediating growth inhibition of colon cancer cells by modulating EGFR and IGF-1R.
Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):267-73. PMID: 17918158
John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.
Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), which has been shown to inhibit growth of transformed cells, has no discernible toxicity and achieves high levels in colonic mucosa. 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or 5-FU plus oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) remains the backbone of colorectal cancer chemotherapeutics, but with limited success. The present investigation was, therefore, undertaken to examine whether curcumin in combination with conventional chemotherapeutic agent(s)/regimen will be a superior therapeutic strategy for colorectal cancer. Indeed, results of our in vitro studies demonstrated that curcumin together with FOLFOX produced a significantly greater inhibition (p<0.01) of growth and stimulated apoptosis (p<0.001) of colon cancer HCT-116 and HT-29 cells than that caused by curcumin, 5-FU, curcumin + 5-FU or FOLFOX. These changes were associated with decreased expression and activation (tyrosine phosphorylation) of EGFR, HER-2, HER-3 (72-100%) and IGF-1R (67%) as well as their downstream effectors such as Akt and cycloxygenase-2 (51-97%). Furthermore, while these agents produced a 2-3-fold increase in the expression of IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), curcumin together with FOLFOX caused a 5-fold increase in the same, when compared to controls. This in turn led to increased sequestration of IGF by IGFBP-3 rendering IGF-1 unavailable for binding to and activation of IGF-1R. We conclude that the superior effects of the combination therapy of curcumin and FOLFOX are due to attenuation of EGFRs and IGF-1R signaling pathways. We also suggest that inclusion of curcumin to the conventional chemotherapeutic agent(s)/regimen could be an effective therapeutic strategy for colorectal cancer.