Curcumin as a MicroRNA Regulator in Cancer: A Review

Part of the Reviews of Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology book series (REVIEWS, volume 171)


Curcumin is a natural dietary polyphenol for which anti-tumor effects have been documented. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin, along with its immunomodulatory, proapoptotic, and antiangiogenic properties, are often referred to as the main mechanisms underlying the anti-tumor effects. At the molecular level, inhibition of NF-kB, Akt/PI3K, and MAPK pathways and enhancement of p53 are among the most important anticancer alterations induced by curcumin. Recent evidence has suggested that epigenetic alterations are also involved in the anti-tumor properties of curcumin. Among these curcumin-induced epigenetic alterations is modulation of the expression of several oncogenic and tumor suppressor microRNAs (miRNAs). Suppression of oncomiRs such as miR-21, miR-17-5p, miR-20a, and miR-27a and over-expression of miR-34 a/c and epithelial-mesenchymal transition-suppressor miRNAs are among the most important effects of curcumin on miRNA homeostasis. The present review will summarize the findings of in vitro and experimental studies on the impact of curcumin and its analogues on the expression of miRNAs involved in different stages of tumor initiation, growth, metastasis, and chemo-resistance.


Cancer Curcumin Epigenetics miRNA Turmeric 



5-Fluorouracil resistant


B cell lymphoma 2


Chick chorioallantoic membrane




Chromatin immuno precipitation






Cancer stem cells


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition


Estrogen receptor 1


Multidrug resistance protein 1


Oral squamous-cell carcinoma


Proliferating cell nuclear antigen


Programmed cell death protein 4


Polycomb repressive complexes


Phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10


Specificity protein


Wilm’s tumor 1


Conflict of Interests

The authors have no competing interests to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Student Research Committee, Department of Medical Biotechnology, School of MedicineMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  2. 2.Nanotechnology Research Center, Bu-Ali Research InstituteMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  3. 3.National Cell Bank of IranPasteur Institute of IranTehranIran
  4. 4.Neurogenic Inflammation Research Center, Department of Medical BiotechnologyMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  5. 5.Division of Pharmaceutical SciencesSchool of Pharmacy, University of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas CityUSA
  6. 6.Unit of Internal Medicine, Angiology and Arteriosclerosis Diseases, Department of MedicineUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  7. 7.Biotechnology Research CenterMashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  8. 8.Metabolic Research CentreRoyal Perth Hospital, School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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