Curcumin mediated apoptosis in AK-5 tumor cells involves the production of reactive oxygen intermediates

FEBS Lett. 1999 Aug 6;456(2):311-4. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(99)00969-2.


Curcumin, the active ingredient of the rhizome of Curcuma longa has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiproliferative activities. Although its precise mode of action remains elusive, studies have shown that chemopreventive action of curcumin might be due to its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Curcumin was shown to be responsible for the inhibition of AK-5 tumor (a rat histiocytoma) growth by inducing apoptosis in AK-5 tumor cells via caspase activation. This study was designed to investigate the mechanism leading to the induction of apoptosis in AK-5 tumor cells. Curcumin treatment resulted in the hyperproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (delta psi(m)) and cytochrome c release to the cytosol, with the concomitant exposure of phosphatidylserine (PS) residues on the cell surface. This study suggests redox signalling and caspase activation as the mechanisms responsible for the induction of curcumin mediated apoptosis in AK-5 tumor cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Histiocytoma, Benign Fibrous / drug therapy*
  • Histiocytoma, Benign Fibrous / metabolism*
  • Histiocytoma, Benign Fibrous / pathology
  • Intracellular Membranes / drug effects
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphatidylserines / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Phosphatidylserines
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Superoxides
  • Caspases
  • Curcumin