Molecular mechanisms underlying chemopreventive potential of curcumin: Current challenges and future perspectives

Life Sci. 2016 Mar 1;148:313-28. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2016.02.022. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


In recent years, natural compounds have received considerable attention in preventing and curing most dreadful diseases including cancer. The reason behind the use of natural compounds in chemoprevention is associated with fewer numbers of side effects than conventional chemotherapeutics. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane, PubMed CID: 969516), a naturally occurring polyphenol, is derived from turmeric, which is used as a common Indian spice. It governs numerous intracellular targets, including proteins involved in antioxidant response, immune response, apoptosis, cell cycle regulation and tumor progression. A huge mass of available studies strongly supports the use of Curcumin as a chemopreventive drug. However, the main challenge encountered is the low bioavailability of Curcumin. This extensive review covers various therapeutic interactions of Curcumin with its recognized cellular targets involved in cancer treatment, strategies to overcome the bioavailability issue and adverse effects associated with Curcumin consumption.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Anti-cancer action; Apoptosis; Curcumin; Toxicity profile.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / drug effects
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Curcumin