Inhibition of histone acetylation by curcumin reduces alcohol-induced expression of heart development-related transcription factors in cardiac progenitor cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Aug 3;424(3):593-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.06.158. Epub 2012 Jul 7.


Alcohol exposure during pregnancy may cause congenital heart disease (CHD). In our previous studies, we found that alcohol selectively increased acetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9) and enhanced the expression of heart development-related genes in cardiac progenitor cells. The objective of this study is to investigate the protective effects of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) inhibitor, curcumin, on histone hyperacetylation and the over-expression of heart development genes induced by alcohol. Western blot analysis was employed to detect the acetylation levels of histone H3K9 and real-time PCR was applied to measure the expressions of heart development-related transcription factors, GATA4, Mef2c and Tbx5 (GMT). Our results showed that alcohol increased the acetylation of H3K9 by 2.76-fold (P<0.05) and significantly enhanced the expression of GATA4 and Mef2c (P<0.05). When cells were treated with alcohol plus 25 μM curcumin, the hyperacetylation of H3K9 and over-expression of GATA4 and Mef2c by alcohol was reversed. These data indicate that curcumin can correct the over-expression of cardiac genes by reversing the alcohol induced hyperacetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 in cardiac progenitor cells, suggesting that curcumin is protective against alcohol-induced cardiac gene over-expression that may result in heart malformations.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Heart / growth & development
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / chemically induced*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / drug effects*
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*


  • Histones
  • Transcription Factors
  • Ethanol
  • Curcumin
  • Lysine