Photodynamic effect of curcumin on NPC/CNE2 cells.
J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2006;25(1-2):205-15. PMID: 16566718
Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is highly prevalent in Southern China. Radiotherapy is the primary treatment of NPC, but the rate of tumor recurrence is significant. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) and the use of natural compounds become one of the new approaches in the investigation of NPC treatment. PDT is an alternate method of cancer treatment while curcumin (CUR) is a compound derived from the traditional Chinese medicinal (TCM) herbs. The purpose of the study focuses on the photodynamic effect of CUR on one of the NPC cell lines, NPC/CNE2. Cytotoxicity and photocytotoxicity of CUR were evaluated by 3-(4,5-dimthyl-thiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) reduction assay. Uptake kinetics of CUR in NPC/CNE2 was examined by flow cytometry. The mode of cell death induced by CUR was studied by fluorescence microscopy. Summarizing the results, CUR showed dark cytotoxicity as well as photocytotoxic effects on NPC/CNE2 cells. LC50 of CUR in the dark was about 16 microM. The cytotoxicity of CUR was enhanced by the irradiation of visible light and blue filtered light (maximum transmittance at 300 approximately 400 nm) with light doses of 300 kJ/m2 and 60 kJ/m2 respectively. NPC/CNE2 was found to rapidly take up CUR in the first hour of incubation, and the uptake kinetics steadily increased to a plateau level after 20 hr of incubation. Cell shrinkage and membrane bledding appeared under the observation of fluorescence microscopy. Such evidences proved that CUR might induce apoptosis on NPC/CNE2 cells. The preliminary study confirmed that CUR demonstrated dark cytotoxicity and photocytotoxicty to NPC/CNE2. The mode of action is likely to be induced by apoptotic pathway. CUR may be developed as a potential photosensitizer as well as a chemotherapeutic agent in clinical application.