Colorectal cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-associated mortality worldwide, but it is truly a preventable disease. Both curcumin and boswellic acids are well-established dietary botanicals with potent antitumorigenic properties that have been shown to modulate multiple oncogenic pathways. Recent data suggest that the chemopreventive effects of these botanicals may, in part, be mediated through regulation of key cancer-related microRNAs (miRNA) and their downstream gene targets. Here, we investigated the antitumorigenic effects of curcumin and 3 acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid (AKBA) on modulation of specific cancer-related miRNAs in colorectal cancer cells and validated their protective effects in vivo using a xenograft mouse model. Both curcumin and AKBA inhibited cellular proliferation, induced apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest in colorectal cancer cell lines, and these effects were significantly enhanced with combined treatment. Gene-expression arrays revealed that curcumin and AKBA regulated distinct cancer signaling pathways, including key cell-cycle regulatory genes. Combined bioinformatics and in silico analysis identified apoptosis, proliferation, and cell-cycle regulatory signaling pathways as key modulators of curcumin and AKBA-induced anticancer effects. We discovered that curcumin and AKBA induced upregulation of tumor-suppressive miR-34a and downregulation of miR-27a in colorectal cancer cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated in a mouse xenograft model that both curcumin and AKBA treatments suppressed tumor growth, which corresponded with alterations in the expression of miR-34a and miR-27a, consistent with our in vitro findings. Herein, we provide novel mechanistic evidence for the chemopreventive effects of curcumin and AKBA through regulation of specific miRNAs in colorectal cancer.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.