Curcumin and Its Derivatives as Potential Therapeutic Agents in Prostate, Colon and Breast Cancers

Molecules. 2019 Nov 30;24(23):4386. doi: 10.3390/molecules24234386.


Cancer is a life-threatening disease and is the second leading cause of death around the world. The increasing threats of drug-resistant cancers indicate that there is an urgent need for the improvement or development of more effective anticancer agents. Curcumin, a phenolic compound originally derived from turmeric plant (Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae family)) widely known as a spice and a coloring agent for food have been reported to possess notable anticancer activity by inhibiting the proliferation and metastasis, and enhancing cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in various cancer cells. In spite of all these benefits, the therapeutic application of curcumin in clinical medicine and its bioavailability are still limited due to its poor absorption and rapid metabolism. Structural modification of curcumin through the synthesis of curcumin-based derivatives is a potential approach to overcome the above limitations. Curcumin derivatives can overcome the disadvantages of curcumin while enhancing the overall efficacy and hindering drug resistance. This article reports a review of published curcumin derivatives and their enhanced anticancer activities.

Keywords: anticancer activity; breast cancer; colon cancer; curcumin; derivatives of curcumin; drug resistance; prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Curcumin / analogs & derivatives
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Curcumin