Curcumin inhibits lipoxygenase by binding to its central cavity: theoretical and X-ray evidence

Int J Mol Med. 2000 Nov;6(5):521-6. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.6.5.521.


Many lipoxygenase inhibitors including curcumin are currently being studied for their anti-carcinogenic properties. Curcumin is a naturally occurring polyphenolic phytochemical isolated from the powdered rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa that possesses anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits cancer formation in mice. Recently it was shown that the soybean lipoxygenase L1 catalyzed the oxygenation of curcumin and that curcumin can act as a lipoxygenase substrate. In the current study, we investigated the fate of curcumin when used as a soybean lipoxygenase L3 substrate. By use of X-ray diffraction and mass spectrometry, we found an unoccupied electron mass that appears to be an unusual degradation product of curcumin (4-hydroxyperoxy-2-methoxyphenol) located near the soybean L3 catalytic site. Understanding how curcumin inhibits lipoxygenase may help in the development of novel anti-cancer drugs used for treatment where lipoxygenases are involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catalytic Domain
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Curcumin / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Lipoxygenase / metabolism*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Binding
  • Soybean Proteins / metabolism


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Soybean Proteins
  • lipoxygenase 3
  • Lipoxygenase
  • Curcumin