Biological Effects of Curcumin and Its Role in Cancer Chemoprevention and Therapy
Curcumin, a natural component of the rhizome of curcuma longa has emerged as one of the most powerful chemopreventive and anticancer agents. Its biological effects range from antioxidant, anti-inflammatory to inhibition of angiogenesis and is also shown to possess specific antitumoral activity. The molecular mechanism of its varied cellular effects has been studied in some details and it has been shown to have multiple targets and interacting macromolecules within the cell. Curcumin has been shown to possess anti-angiogenic properties and the angioinhibitory effects of curcumin manifest due to down regulation of proangiogenic genes such as VEGF and angiopoitin and a decrease in migration and invasion of endothelial cells. One of the important factors implicated in chemoresistance and induced chemosensitivity is NFkB and curcumin has been shown to down regulate NFkB and inhibit IKB kinase thereby suppressing proliferation and inducing apoptosis. Cell lines that are resistant to certain apoptotic inducers and radiation become susceptible to apoptosis when treated in conjunction with curcumin. Besides this it can also act as a chemopreventive agent in cancers of colon, stomach and skin by suppressing colonic aberrant crypt foci formation and DNA adduct formation. This review focuses on the various aspects of curcumin as a potential drug for cancer treatment and its implications in a variety of biological and cellular processes vis-à-vis its mechanism of action.