Inhibitory effect of curcumin on uterine leiomyoma cell proliferation

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011 Jul;27(7):512-7. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2010.507287. Epub 2010 Jul 30.


Objective: Uterine leiomyomas are the most common gynaecological benign tumour and greatly affect reproductive health and wellbeing. They are the predominant indication for hysterectomy in premenopausal women. Curcumin, a well-known component of turmeric, has been reported to prevent various diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity. Previous study reported that curcumin represses the proliferation of several tumour cells. However, there has not been a precise characterisation of the curcumin-induced inhibition of uterine leiomyoma cells. In this study, we investigated the inhibitory effect of curcumin on leiomyoma cells proliferation.

Study design: Eker rat-derived uterine leiomyoma cell lines (ELT-3 cells) were used. Cell proliferation was assessed by counting the number of cells and MTS assay. The activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) was evaluated by luciferase assay.

Results: We found that curcumin significantly inhibited ELT-3 cell proliferation. PPARγ was expressed in ELT-3 cells and curcumin acted as a PPARγ ligand. This inhibitory effect of curcumin was attenuated by the treatment of cells with PPARγ antagonist.

Conclusion: These experimental findings in vitro show that the inhibitory effect of curcumin on ELT-3 cell proliferation occurs through the activation of PPARγ. Curcumin may be useful as an alternative therapy for uterine leiomyoma.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Leiomyoma / drug therapy*
  • Leiomyoma / metabolism
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Uterine Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Uterus / drug effects*
  • Uterus / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • PPAR gamma
  • Curcumin