Curcumin inhibits telomerase activity through human telomerase reverse transcritpase in MCF-7 breast cancer cell line

Cancer Lett. 2002 Oct 8;184(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(02)00192-1.


The inhibitory effect of curcumin, the yellow-colored pigment from turmeric, on telomerase activity was analyzed in human mammary epithelial (MCF-10A) and breast cancer (MCF-7) cells. Telomerase activity in MCF-7 cells is 6.9-fold higher than that of human mammary epithelial cells. In MCF-7 cells, telomerase activity decreased with increasing concentrations of curcumin, inhibiting about 93.4% activity at 100 microM concentration. The inhibition of telomerase activity in MCF-7 cells may be due to down-regulation of hTERT expression. Increasing concentrations of curcumin caused a steady decrease in the level of hTERT mRNA in MCF-7 cells whereas the level of hTER and c-myc mRNAs remained the same. Our results suggest that curcumin inhibits telomerase activity by down-regulating hTERT expression in breast cancer cells and this down-regulation is not through the c-myc pathway.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Down-Regulation
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Telomerase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / enzymology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • Telomerase
  • Curcumin