Curcumin-cyclodextrin complexes potentiate gemcitabine effects in an orthotopic mouse model of lung cancer

Br J Cancer. 2012 Sep 25;107(7):1083-92. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.379. Epub 2012 Aug 28.


Background: Overall clinical outcome for advanced lung cancer remains very disappointing despite recent advances in treatment. Curcumin has been reported as potentially active against cancer.

Methods: Owing to poor curcumin solubility, we have used cyclodextrins (CD) as an excipient allowing a considerable increase of aqueous solubility and bioavailability of curcumin. The effects of solubilised curcumin have been evaluated in cell cultures as well as in an in vivo orthotopic lung tumour mouse model.

Results: Cell proliferation was reduced while apoptosis rates were increased when lung epithelial tumour cells were cultured in the presence of curcumin-CD complexes. For in vivo experiments, cells were grafted into lungs of C57Bl/6 mice treated by an oral administration of a non-soluble form of curcumin, CDs alone or curcumin-CD complexes, combined or not with gemcitabine. The size of orthotopically implanted lung tumours was reduced upon curcumin complex administration as compared with treatments with placebo or non-solubilised curcumin. Moreover, curcumin potentiated the gemcitabine-mediated antitumour effects.

Conclusion: Our data demonstrate that curcumin, when given orally in a CD-solubilised form, reduces lung tumour size in vivo. In vitro experiments show impaired tumour cell proliferation and increased cell apoptosis. Moreover, our data underline a potential additive effect of curcumin with gemcitabine thus providing an efficient therapeutic option for antilung cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Cyclodextrins / administration & dosage
  • Cyclodextrins / chemistry
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Drug Synergism
  • G2 Phase / drug effects
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Cyclodextrins
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine
  • Curcumin