Water-soluble antioxidants improve the antioxidant and anticancer activity of low concentrations of curcumin in human leukemia cells.
Pharmazie. 2005 Jan;60(1):57-61. PMID: 15700780
School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China.
Curcumin (Cur) is a promising antioxidant and anticancer drug, but several recent studies indicate that Cur exerts its anticancer activity through promoting reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. In the present study, concentration-dependent regulation of Cur on cell proliferation, viability and ROS generation, and effect of water-soluble antioxidants ascorbic acid (ASA), N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and reduced glutathione (GSH) on the antioxidant and anticancer activity of Cur were investigated in human myeloid leukemia cells (HL-60 cells). We found that although Cur concentration- and time-dependently decreased the proliferation and viability of cells, its effect on ROS generation (as indicated by the level of malondialdehyde, MDA) varied with its concentrations. I.e., low concentrations of Cur diminished the ROS generation, while high Cur promoted it. Combined with the opposite effect of 50 microM H2O2 on low or high Cur-induced MDA alteration, cell proliferation arrest and cell death, these results proved that low Cur exerted its anticancer activity through diminishing ROS generation in HL-60 cells, while high Cur through promoting ROS generation. Further studies showed that all water-soluble antioxidants ASA, NAC and GSH significantly enhanced both the antioxidant and the anticancer activity of low Cur. Considering that the extra accumulation of ROS is harmful to normal cells, the data presented here indicate that instead of using high doses, combining low doses of Cur with water-soluble antioxidants is a better strategy for us to improve the anticancer activity of Cur.