Induction of heat shock response by curcumin in human leukemia cells

Cancer Lett. 2009 Jul 8;279(2):145-54. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.01.031. Epub 2009 Feb 25.


Heat shock response is an adaptive response, which helps the cells to regulate their physiological homeostasis under stress. Here we show that the natural compound curcumin induces nuclear translocation of the heat shock transcription factor (HSF)-1, its binding to a heat shock regulatory element (HSE), and the subsequent activation of the hsp70 promoter through the extracellular regulated kinase (ERK)/mitogen activated protein (MAP) ERK (MEK) and c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathways, but not through p38. We observe that curcumin activates hsp70A and hsp70B mRNA transcription, increases HSP protein expression but decreases the expression of Bag-1, a Hsp70 co-chaperone in K562 cells. This induction Hsp70 protein expression goes in line with the anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties of curcumin in chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Heat Shock Transcription Factors
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • K562 Cells
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • BCL2-associated athanogene 1 protein
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heat Shock Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Curcumin