Preclinical assessment of curcumin as a potential therapy for B-CLL.
Am J Hematol. 2007 Jan;82(1):23-30 PMID: 16947318
Curcumin, the principle component of the spice turmeric, has been used as an anti-inflammatory medication in India and China for centuries. Recent studies, predominantly using actively dividing cell lines, have suggested that this compound could be used as a chemopreventative or therapeutic agent for epithelial tumors. As curcumin has been reported to inhibit the NIK/IKK complex, an activity that would be expected to induce apoptosis in B cell malignancies, we sought to determine whether curcumin induces apoptosis in vitro in primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) cells. Primary leukemic cells were incubated with varying dosages of curcumin, followed by assessment for apoptosis. The role of PPARgamma or NF-kappaB signaling in curcumin-induced apoptosis was examined by cotreatment with a PPARgamma antagonist or EMSA of nuclear NFkappaB complexes. We also examined whether a clinically achievable concentration of curcumin (1 microM) would augment the apoptotic effects of fludarabine, dexamethasone, vincristine or the PDE4 inhibitor rolipram. In B-CLL cells from 14 patients, curcumin-induced apoptosis with a mean EC(50) of 5.5 microM. In contrast, the EC(50) for whole mononuclear cells from a healthy donor was 21.8 microM. In a 48 hr wash-out time course, curcumin-induced apoptosis was time-dependent, with a substantial reduction in apoptosis observed when curcumin was removed after 5 hr. Curcumin treatment reduced basal nuclear NF-kappaB levels and 1 microM curcumin augmented both vinca alkaloid and PDE4 inhibitor-induced apoptosis in B-CLL cells. Our studies suggest that curcumin may augment the efficacy of established or experimental therapies for B-CLL.