Therapeutic Potential of Curcumin in the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Curr Pharm Des. 2019;25(3):333-342. doi: 10.2174/1381612825666190313123704.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary malignant brain tumor. Despite standard multimodality treatment, the highly aggressive nature of GBM makes it one of the deadliest human malignancies. The anti-cancer effects of dietary phytochemicals like curcumin provide new insights to cancer treatment. Evaluation of curcumin's efficacy against different malignancies including glioblastoma has been a motivational research topic and widely studied during the recent decade. In this review, we discuss the recent observations on the potential therapeutic effects of curcumin against glioblastoma. Curcumin can target multiple signaling pathways involved in developing aggressive and drug-resistant features of glioblastoma, including pathways associated with glioma stem cell activity. Notably, combination therapy with curcumin and chemotherapeutics like temozolomide, the GBM standard therapy, as well as radiotherapy has shown synergistic response, highlighting curcumin's chemo- and radio-sensitizing effect. There are also multiple reports for curcumin nanoformulations and targeted forms showing enhanced therapeutic efficacy and passage through blood-brain barrier, as compared with natural curcumin. Furthermore, in vivo studies have revealed significant anti-tumor effects, decreased tumor size and increased survival with no notable evidence of systemic toxicity in treated animals. Finally, a pharmacokinetic study in patients with GBM has shown a detectable intratumoral concentration, thereby suggesting a potential for curcumin to exert its therapeutic effects in the brain. Despite all the evidence in support of curcumin's potential therapeutic efficacy in GBM, clinical reports are still scarce. More studies are needed to determine the effects of combination therapies with curcumin and importantly to investigate the potential for alleviating chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-induced adverse effects.

Keywords: Glioblastoma; anti-cancer effects; chemotherapy; curcumin; phytochemicals; temozolomide..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Humans


  • Curcumin