Curcumin enhances the lung cancer chemopreventive efficacy of phospho-sulindac by improving its pharmacokinetics

Int J Oncol. 2013 Sep;43(3):895-902. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2013.1995. Epub 2013 Jun 27.


Phospho-sulindac (PS) is a safe sulindac derivative with promising anticancer efficacy in colon cancer. We evaluated whether its combination with curcumin could enhance the efficacy in the treatment of lung cancer. Curcumin, the principal bioactive component in turmeric, has demonstrated versatile capabilities to modify the therapeutic efficacy of a wide range of anticancer agents. Here, we evaluated the effect of co-administration of curcumin on the anticancer activity of PS in a mouse xenograft model of human lung cancer. Curcumin enhanced the cellular uptake of PS in human lung and colon cancer cell lines. To assess the potential synergism between curcumin and PS in vivo, curcumin was suspended in 10% Tween-80 or formulated in micellar nanoparticles and given to mice by oral gavage prior to the administration of PS. Both formulations of curcumin significantly improved the pharmacokinetic profiles of PS, with the 10% Tween-80 suspension being much more effective than the nanoparticle formation. However, curcumin did not exhibit any significant modification of the metabolite profile of PS. Furthermore, in a mouse subcutaneous xenograft model of human lung cancer, PS (200 mg/kg) in combination with curcumin (500 mg/kg) suspended in 10% Tween-80 (51% inhibition, p<0.05) was significantly more efficacious than PS plus micelle curcumin (30%) or PS (25%) or curcumin alone (no effect). Consistent with the improved pharmacokinetics, the combination treatment group had higher levels of PS and its metabolites in the xenografts compared to PS alone. Our results show that curcumin substantially improves the pharmacokinetics of PS leading to synergistic inhibition of the growth of human lung cancer xenografts, representing a promising drug combination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Mice
  • Sulindac / administration & dosage*
  • Sulindac / analogs & derivatives
  • Sulindac / pharmacokinetics
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Sulindac
  • Curcumin