Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 269–278 | Cite as

Differential sensitivity of human mammary epithelial and breast carcinoma cell lines to curcumin

  • Cheppail Ramachandran
  • Wei You


Curcumin has anti‐inflamatory, antiproliferative, and antitumor effects. To understand the chemopreventive mechanism of curcumin against human malignancies, the cellular and molecular changes induced by this agent in human mammary epithelial (MCF‐10A) and breast carcinoma (MCF‐ 7/TH) cell lines were investigated. The human multidrug‐ resistant breast cancer cell line was 3.5 fold more sensitive to curcumin than the mammary epithelial cell line. Even though both cell lines accumulated a similar amount of curcumin, a significantly higher percentage of apoptotic cells was induced in breast cancer cells compared to a very low percentage of apoptosis in mammary epithelial cells. Incubation of breast cancer cells with 20 and 40 μM curcumin for 24 h induced G2 block and sub‐ G0/G1 cell population, respectively. Curcumin treatment caused a reduction in the expression of Ki67, PCNA, and p53 mRNAs in breast cancer cells. The human mammary epithelial cell line showed a down‐regulation of p21 mRNA and an up‐regulation of Bax mRNA expression with curcumin treatment. The results suggest that apoptosis is involved in the curcumin‐induced inhibition of tumor cell growth, and genes associated with cell proliferation and apoptosis may be playing a role in the chemopreventive action of curcumin.

Abbreviations: EGF: epidermal growth factor; D-MEM: Dulbecco' Modified Eagle Medium; EDTA: ethylene diamine tetra‐acetic acid; PBS: phosphate buffered saline; TdT: terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase; FBS: fetal bovine serum; RT‐PCR: reverse transcription‐polymerase chain reaction; PCNA: proliferating cell nuclear antigen; TNF: tumor necrosis factor; TPA: 12‐tetradecanoyl‐phorbol‐13‐acetate.

apoptosis breast carcinoma cell cycle curcumin cytotoxicity gene expression RT‐PCR 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheppail Ramachandran
    • 1
  • Wei You
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Experimental Therapeutics, Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity of Miami School of MedicineMiamiUSA

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