Anti-cancer activity of amorphous curcumin preparation in patient-derived colorectal cancer organoids

Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Oct;142:112043. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112043. Epub 2021 Aug 16.


Despite its adverse effects, chemotherapy is generally used for the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). Development of supplement preparations targeting cancer stem cells (CSCs) that cause distant metastasis and drug resistance is required. Although curcumin is known to have anti-tumor, hepatoprotective, and hypoglycemic-like actions, its low water solubility, oral absorption, and bioavailability impede its therapeutic uses. Patient-derived organoid cultures can recapitulate heterogeneity, epithelial structures, and molecular imprints of their parental tissues. In the present study, anti-carcinogenic properties of amorphous curcumin (AC), a compound with improved solubility and bioavailability, were evaluated against human CRC organoids. Treatment with AC inhibited the cell viability of CRC organoids in a concentration-dependent manner. AC arrested the cell cycle of CRC organoids and induced apoptosis. AC inhibited phosphorylation of ERK. Expression of downstream signals of ERK, namely c-MYC and cyclin-D1, were inhibited. Expressions of CSC markers, CD44, LGR5, and CD133, were declined in the AC-treated CRC organoids. The combinational treatment of CRC organoids with AC and anti-cancer drugs, oxaliplatin, 5-FU, or irinotecan showed a synergistic activity. In vivo, AC decreased the tumor growth of CRC organoids in mice with the induction of necrotic lesions. In conclusion, AC diminished the cell viability of CRC organoids through the inhibition of proliferation-related signals and CSC marker expression in addition to arresting the cell cycle. Collectively, these data suggest the value of AC as a promising supplement that could be used in combination with anti-cancer drugs to prevent the recurrence and metastasis of CRC.

Keywords: Amorphous curcumin; Apoptosis; C-MYC; CSCs; Cell cycle; Chemotherapy; Colorectal cancer; Organoid.