Dissemination of metastatic cells probably occurs long before diagnosis of the primary tumor. Metastasis during early phases of carcinogenesis in high risk patients is therefore a potential prevention target. The plant polyphenol Curcumin has been proposed for dietary prevention of cancer. We therefore examined its effects on the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 in vitroand in a mouse metastasis model. Curcumin strongly induces apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells in correlation with reduced activation of the survival pathway NFkappaB, as a consequence of diminished IotakappaB and p65 phosphorylation. Curcumin also reduces the expression of major matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) due to reduced NFkappa B activity and transcriptional downregulation of AP-1. NFkappa B/p65 silencing is sufficient to downregulate c-jun and MMP expression. Reduced NFkappa B/AP-1 activity and MMP expression lead to diminished invasion through a reconstituted basement membrane and to a significantly lower number of lung metastases in immunodeficient mice after intercardiac injection of 231 cells (p=0.0035). 68% of Curcumin treated but only 17% of untreated animals showed no or very few lung metastases, most likely as a consequence of down-regulation of NFkappa B/AP-1 dependent MMP expression and direct apoptotic effects on circulating tumor cells but not on established metastases. Dietary chemoprevention of metastases appears therefore feasible.
Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.