Curcumin Suppresses Constitutive Activation of STAT-3 by Up-Regulating Protein Inhibitor of Activated STAT-3 (PIAS-3) in Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer Cells

J Cell Biochem. 2010 May 15;110(2):447-56. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22558.


Signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT-3) is constitutively activated in ovarian and endometrial cancers and is implicated in uncontrolled cell growth. Thus, its disruption could be an effective approach to control tumorigenesis. Curcumin is a dihydroxyphenolic compound, with proven anti-cancer efficacy in various cancer models. We examined the anti-tumor mechanism of curcumin on STAT-3 and on the negative regulators of STAT-3, including suppressors of cytokine signaling proteins (SOCS-1 and SOCS-3), protein inhibitors of activated STAT (PIAS-1 and PIAS-3), and SH2 domain-containing phosphatases (SHP-1 and SHP-2) in ovarian and endometrial cancer cell lines. Treatment of cancer cells with curcumin induced a dose- and time-dependent decrease of constitutive IL-6 expression and of constitutive and IL-6-induced STAT-3 phosphorylation, which is associated with decreased cell viability and increased cleavage of caspase-3. The inhibition of STAT-3 activation by curcumin was reversible, and phosphorylated STAT-3 levels returned to control levels 24 h after curcumin removal. Compared to normal cells baseline expression of SOCS-3 was high in cancer cells and a marked decrease in SOCS-3 expression was seen following curcumin treatment. Overexpression of SOCS-3 in curcumin-treated cells increased expression of phosphorylated STAT-3 and resulted in increased cell viability. Normal ovarian and endometrial cells exhibited high expression of PIAS-3 protein, whereas in cancer cells the expression was greatly reduced. Curcumin increased PIAS-3 expression in cancer cells. Of significance, siRNA-mediated knockdown of PIAS-3 overcomes the inhibitory effect of curcumin on STAT-3 phosphorylation and cell viability. In conclusion, curcumin suppresses JAK-STAT signaling via activation of PIAS-3, thus attenuating STAT-3 phosphorylation and tumor cell growth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Inhibitors of Activated STAT / metabolism*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / physiology*


  • Molecular Chaperones
  • PIAS3 protein, human
  • Protein Inhibitors of Activated STAT
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Curcumin