Curcumin induces G2/M arrest and apoptosis in cisplatin-resistant human ovarian cancer cells by modulating Akt and p38 MAPK

Cancer Biol Ther. 2007 Feb;6(2):178-84. doi: 10.4161/cbt.6.2.3577. Epub 2007 Feb 5.


Curcumin, a major active component of turmeric, is known to induce apoptosis in several types of cancer cells, but little is known about its activity in chemoresistant cells. Hence, the aim of the present study was to investigate the anticancer properties of curcumin in cisplatin-resistant human ovarian cancer cells in vitro. The results indicated that curcumin inhibited the proliferation of both cisplatin-resistant (CR) and sensitive (CS) human ovarian cancer cells almost equally. Enhanced superoxide generation was observed in both CR and CS cells treated with curcumin. Curcumin induced G(2)/M phase cell-cycle arrest in CR cells by enhancing the p53 phosphorylation and apoptosis through the activation of caspase-3 followed by PARP degradation. Curcumin also inhibited the phosphorylation of Akt while the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK was enhanced. In summary, our results showed that curcumin inhibits the proliferation of cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer cells through the induction of superoxide generation, G(2)/M arrest, and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • G2 Phase / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / drug effects
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Curcumin
  • Cisplatin