Efficacy of liposomal curcumin in a human pancreatic tumor xenograft model: inhibition of tumor growth and angiogenesis

Anticancer Res. 2013 Sep;33(9):3603-9.


Background: Liposome-based drug delivery has been successful in the past decade, with some formulations being Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved and others in clinical trials around the world. The major disadvantage associated with curcumin, a potent anticancer agent, is its poor aqueous solubility and hence low systemic bioavailability. However, curcumin can be encapsulated into liposomes to improve systemic bioavailability.

Materials and methods: We determined the antitumor effects of a liposomal curcumin formulation against human MiaPaCa pancreatic cancer cells both in vitro and in xenograft studies. Histological sections were isolated from murine xenografts and immunohistochemistry was performed.

Results: The in vitro (IC50) liposomal curcumin proliferation-inhibiting concentration was 17.5 μM. In xenograft tumors in nude mice, liposomal curcumin at 20 mg/kg i.p. three-times a week for four weeks induced 42% suppression of tumor growth compared to untreated controls. A potent antiangiogenic effect characterized by a reduced number of blood vessels and reduced expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and annexin A2 proteins, as determined by immunohistochemistry was observed in treated tumors.

Conclusion: These data clearly establish the efficacy of liposomal curcumin in reducing human pancreatic cancer growth in the examined model. The therapeutic curcumin-based effects, with no limiting side-effects, suggest that liposomal curcumin may be beneficial in patients with pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: Curcumin; MiaPaCa cells; annexin A2; liposomal curcumin; pancreatic cancer; xenograft.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liposomes*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Liposomes
  • NF-kappa B
  • Curcumin