Curcumin and treatment of melanoma: The potential role of microRNAs

Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Apr;88:832-834. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2017.01.078. Epub 2017 Feb 24.


Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and is characterized by poor prognosis in its advanced stages because treatments are poorly effective and burdened with severe adverse effects. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that are implicated in several cellular processes; they are categorized as oncogenic and tumor suppressor miRNAs. Several miRNAs are implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of melanoma, such as the tumor suppressor miR-let7b that targets cyclin D and regulates cell cycle. Curcumin is a natural compound derived from Curcuma longa L. (turmeric) with anti-cancer properties, documented also in melanoma, and is well tolerated in humans. Pharmacological activity of curcumin is mediated by modulation of several pathways, such as JAK-2/STAT3, thus inhibiting melanoma cell migration and invasion and enhancing apoptosis of these cells. The low oral bioavailability of curcumin has led to the development of curcumin analogues, such as EF24, with greater anti-tumor efficacy and metabolic stability. Potential anti-cancer activity of curcumin and its analogues is also mediated by modulation of miRNAs such as miR21, that is implicated in cell cycle regulation and apoptosis through down-regulation of PTEN and PDCD4 proteins. Curcumin has a potential role in the treatment of melanoma, though further studies are necessary to explore its clinical efficacy.

Keywords: Curcumin; Melanoma; MicroRNA; Tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / drug effects
  • MicroRNAs / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • MicroRNAs
  • Curcumin