Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp 13017–13028 | Cite as

Molecular targets of curcumin for cancer therapy: an updated review

  • Pandima Devi Kasi
  • Rajavel Tamilselvam
  • Krystyna Skalicka-Woźniak
  • Seyed Fazel Nabavi
  • Maria Daglia
  • Anupam Bishayee
  • Hamidreza Pazoki-toroudi
  • Seyed Mohammad Nabavi


In recent years, natural edible products have been found to be important therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic human diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegeneration. Curcumin is a well-known diarylheptanoid constituent of turmeric which possesses anticancer effects under both pre-clinical and clinical conditions. Moreover, it is well known that the anticancer effects of curcumin are primarily due to the activation of apoptotic pathways in the cancer cells as well as inhibition of tumor microenvironments like inflammation, angiogenesis, and tumor metastasis. In particular, extensive studies have demonstrated that curcumin targets numerous therapeutically important cancer signaling pathways such as p53, Ras, PI3K, AKT, Wnt-β catenin, mTOR and so on. Clinical studies also suggested that either curcumin alone or as combination with other drugs possess promising anticancer effect in cancer patients without causing any adverse effects. In this article, we critically review the available scientific evidence on the molecular targets of curcumin for the treatment of different types of cancer. In addition, we also discuss its chemistry, sources, bioavailability, and future research directions.


Anticancer Curcumin Polyphenol Turmeric 



The Indian authors KPD and TR gratefully acknowledge the computational and bioinformatics facility provided by the Alagappa University Bioinformatics Infrastructure Facility (funded by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India; Grant No. BT/BI/25/015/2012).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pandima Devi Kasi
    • 1
  • Rajavel Tamilselvam
    • 1
  • Krystyna Skalicka-Woźniak
    • 2
  • Seyed Fazel Nabavi
    • 3
  • Maria Daglia
    • 4
  • Anupam Bishayee
    • 5
  • Hamidreza Pazoki-toroudi
    • 6
  • Seyed Mohammad Nabavi
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyAlagappa University (Science Campus)KaraikudiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacognosy with Medicinal Plants UnitMedical University of LublinLublinPoland
  3. 3.Applied Biotechnology Research CenterBaqiyatallah University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  4. 4.Department of Drug Sciences, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology SectionUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of PharmacyLarkin Health Sciences InstituteMiamiUSA
  6. 6.Physiology Research Center, Faculty of MedicineIran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran

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