Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 92, Issue 12, pp 1319–1330 | Cite as

Inactivation of FoxM1 transcription factor contributes to curcumin-induced inhibition of survival, angiogenesis, and chemosensitivity in acute myeloid leukemia cells

  • Jing-ru Zhang
  • Fei Lu
  • Ting Lu
  • Wen-hao Dong
  • Peng Li
  • Na Liu
  • Dao-xin Ma
  • Chun-yan JiEmail author
Original Article


Aberrant expression of forkhead box protein M1 (FoxM1) contributes to carcinogenesis in human cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), suggesting that the discovery of specific agents targeting FoxM1 would be extremely valuable for the treatment of AML. Curcumin, a naturally occurring phenolic compound, is suggested to possess anti-leukemic activity; however, the underlying mechanism has not been well elucidated. In this study, we found that curcumin inhibited cell survival accompanied by induction of G2/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in HL60, Kasumi, NB4, and KG1 cells. This was associated with concomitant attenuation of FoxM1 and its downstream genes, such as cyclin B1, cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 2, S-phase kinase-associated protein 2, Cdc25B, survivin, Bcl-2, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, MMP-9, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), as well as the reduction of the angiogenic effect of AML cells. We also found that specific downregulation of FoxM1 by siRNA prior to curcumin treatment resulted in enhanced cell survival inhibition and induction of apoptosis. Accordingly, FoxM1 siRNA increased the susceptibility of AML cells to doxorubicin-induced apoptosis. More importantly, curcumin suppressed FoxM1 expression, selectively inhibited cell survival as well as the combination of curcumin and doxorubicin exhibited a more inhibitory effect in primary CD34+ AML cells, while showing limited lethality in normal CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors. These results identify a novel role for FoxM1 in mediating the biological effects of curcumin in human AML cells. Our data provide the first evidence that curcumin together with chemotherapy or FoxM1 targeting agents may be effective strategies for the treatment of AML.

Key message

  • Curcumin inhibited AML cell survival and angiogenesis and induced chemosensitivity.

  • Aberrant expression of FoxM1 induces AML cell survival and chemoresistance.

  • Inactivation of FoxM1 contributes to curcumin-induced anti-leukemic effects.

  • Curcumin together with FoxM1 targeting agents may be effective for AML therapy.


Acute myeloid leukemia Angiogenesis Chemosensitivity Curcumin FoxM1 



This work was supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (81370662, 81070422, 30871088, 81070407) and the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (SRFDP, Ministry of Education) (20100131110060).

Conflict of interest

All the authors declared no competing interests.

Supplementary material

109_2014_1198_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (935 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 935 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing-ru Zhang
    • 1
  • Fei Lu
    • 1
  • Ting Lu
    • 1
  • Wen-hao Dong
    • 1
  • Peng Li
    • 1
  • Na Liu
    • 1
  • Dao-xin Ma
    • 1
  • Chun-yan Ji
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Hematology, Qilu HospitalShandong UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China

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