The combination of epigallocatechin gallate and curcumin suppresses ER alpha-breast cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo

Int J Cancer. 2008 May 1;122(9):1966-71. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23328.


Both epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and curcumin have shown efficacy in various in vivo and in vitro models of cancer. This study was designed to determine the efficacy of these naturally derived polyphenolic compounds in vitro and in vivo, when given in combination. Studies in MDA-MB-231 cells demonstrated that EGCG + curcumin was synergistically cytotoxic and that this correlated with G(2)/M-phase cell cycle arrest. After 12 hr, EGCG (25 microM) + curcumin (3 microM) increased the proportion of cells in G(2)/M-phase to 263 +/- 16% of control and this correlated with a 50 +/- 4% decrease in cell number compared to control. To determine if this in vitro result would translate in vivo, athymic nude female mice were implanted with MDA-MB-231 cells and treated with curcumin (200 mg/kg/day, po), EGCG (25 mg/kg/day, ip), EGCG + curcumin, or vehicle control (5 ml/kg/day, po) for 10 weeks. Tumor volume in the EGCG + curcumin treated mice decreased 49% compared to vehicle control mice (p < 0.05), which correlated with a 78 +/- 6% decrease in levels of VEGFR-1 protein expression in the tumors. Curcumin treatment significantly decreased tumor protein levels of EGFR and Akt, however the expression of these proteins was not further decreased following combination treatment. Therefore, these results demonstrate that the combination of EGCG and curcumin is efficacious in both in vitro and in vivo models of ER alpha-breast cancer and that regulation of VEGFR-1 may play a key role in this effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / analysis*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1 / metabolism
  • Weight Gain


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • Curcumin