Curcumin inhibits intracellular fatty acid synthase and induces apoptosis in human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells

Oncol Rep. 2016 May;35(5):2651-6. doi: 10.3892/or.2016.4682. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


High levels of fatty acid synthase (FAS) expression have been found in many tumors, including prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers, and inhibition of FAS has been reported to obstruct tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Curcumin is one of the major active ingredients of Curcuma longa, which has been proven to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In the present study, we investigated the potential activity of curcumin as a FAS inhibitor for chemoprevention of breast cancer. As a result, curcumin induced human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cell apoptosis with the half-inhibitory concentration value of 3.63 ± 0.26 µg/ml, and blocked FAS activity, expression and mRNA level in a dose-dependent manner. Curcumin also regulated B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), Bax and p-Akt protein expression in MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, FAS knockdown showed similar effect as curcumin. All these results suggested that curcumin may induce cell apoptosis via inhibiting FAS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / genetics
  • Fatty Acid Synthases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BAX protein, human
  • BCL2 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Fatty Acid Synthases
  • Curcumin