Effects of curcumin on P-glycoprotein in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes.
Life Sci. 1998;62(25):2349-58. PMID: 9651124
Dipartimento di Biomedicina Sperimentale, Università degli Studi di Pisa, Scuola Medica, Italy.
Curcumin is a natural phenolic compound found in the rhizomes of Curcuma longa and endowed with beneficial biological activities including antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and hepatoprotective effects. In this study curcumin was tested for its potential ability to interact in vitro with hepatic P-glycoprotein (Pgp), in a model system represented by primary cultures of rat hepatocytes, in which spontaneous overexpression of multidrug resistance (mdr) genes occurs. In both freshly-plated hepatocytes, containing low levels of Pgp, and 72 hour-cultured hepatocytes, containing high levels of Pgp, the Rhodamine-123 (R-123) efflux, which represents a specific functional test for Pgp-mediated transport, was inhibited by curcumin in a dose-dependent manner. Western blot analysis showed that 25microM curcumin, when included in the culture medium throughout the experimental observation (72 hours), was able to significantly lower the increase of mAb C219-immunoreactive protein spontaneously occurring in the cells during culture. Curcumin, at doses ranging from 50 to 150microM was cytotoxic for freshly-plated hepatocytes, as shown by the strong decrease in the cell ability to exclude trypan blue 24 hours later, but it was significantly less cytotoxic when added to 24 or 48 hour-cultured cells. The resistance to curcumin, progressively acquired by cells during culture, was significantly reduced by high concentrations of dexamethasone (DEX) or dimethyl-sulfoxide (DMSO), culture conditions known to inhibit the spontaneous overexpression of Pgp. In addition, in a concentration-dependent manner, verapamil reverted curcumin resistance in Pgp overexpressing hepatocytes. In photoaffinity labeling studies, curcumin competed with azidopine for binding to Pgp, suggesting a direct interaction with glycoprotein. These results suggest that curcumin is able to modulate in vitro both expression and function of hepatic Pgp and support the hypothesis that curcumin, a chemopreventive phytochemical, could reveal itself also as a compound endowed with chemosensitizing properties on mdr phenotype.