Posted on Nov 08, 2012, 6 a.m.
Curcumin, the spice compound that gives curry its yellow color and pungent flavor, may inhibit formation of metastases, in a lab model of prostate cancer.
One of the most prevalent malignancies in the Western world, prostate cancer is often only diagnosed only after metastatic tumors have formed in other organs; in 3% of cases, these metastases are lethal. Curcumin, a spice compound extracted from the rootstalks of the turmeric plant and gives curry its yellow color and pungent flavor, has been used for centuries in folk medicine and is becoming recognized for its ability to curb the inflammatory response. In previous work, Beatrice Bachmeier, from Ludwig-Maximillians University Munchen (Germany), and colleagues established that curcumin reduces statistically significantly the formation of lung metastases in an animal model of advanced breast cancer. In the present study, the researchers aimed to investigate the efficacy of curcumin in the prevention of prostate cancer metastases, and to determine the compound’s mechanism of action. The researchers first examined the molecular processes that are abnormally regulated in prostate carcinoma cells, finding that tumor cells produce pro-inflammatory immunomodulators including the cytokines CXCL1 and CXCL2. The researchers demonstrated hat curcumin specifically decreases the expression of these two proteins, and in a mouse model, this effect correlated with a decline in the incidence of metastases. Observing that: “Chronic inflammation can induce a metastasis prone phenotype in prostate cancer cells by maintaining a positive pro-inflammatory and pro-metastatic feed-back loop between [inflammatory markers implicated in cancer],” the study authors conclude that: “Curcumin disrupts this feed-back loop by the inhibition of NFκB signalling leading to reduced metastasis formation in vivo.”
Peter H. Killian, Emanuel Kronski, Katharina Michalik, Ottavia Barbieri, Simonetta Astigiano, Beatrice E. Bachmeier, et al. “Curcumin Inhibits Prostate Cancer Metastasis in vivo by Targeting the Inflammatory Cytokines CXCL1 and -2.” Carcinogenesis, October 5, 2012.