In vitro and in vivo anti-tumoral effect of curcumin against melanoma cells

Int J Cancer. 2004 Sep 1;111(3):381-7. doi: 10.1002/ijc.20160.


Curcumin, the active ingredient from the spice turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn), is known to be an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been demonstrated recently to possess anti-angiogenic effects and pro-apoptotic activities against Ehrlich ascites tumor cells. In the current study, curcumin was found to be cytotoxic in vitro for B16-R melanoma cells resistant to doxorubicin either cultivated as monolayers or grown in three-dimensional (3-D) cultures (spheroids). We have demonstrated that the cytotoxic effect observed in the 2 culture types can be related to the induction of programmed cell death. In our in vivo studies, we examined the effectiveness of a prophylactic immune preparation of soluble proteins from B16-R cells, or a treatment with curcumin as soon as tumoral appearance, alone or in combination, on the murine melanoma B16-R. The combination treatment resulted in substantial inhibition of growth of B16-R melanoma, whereas each treatment by itself showed little effect. Moreover, animals receiving the combination therapy exhibited an enhancement of their humoral anti-soluble B16-R protein immune response and a significant increase in their median survival time (> 82.8% vs. 48.6% and 45.7% respectively for the immunized group and the curcumin-treated group). Our study shows that curcumin may provide a valuable tool for the development of a therapeutic combination against the melanoma.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / toxicity*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Curcumin / toxicity*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • DNA, Neoplasm / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Melanoma, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Melanoma, Experimental / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Phytotherapy


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Curcumin