Curcumin induces apoptosis via inhibition of PI3′-kinase/AKT pathway in acute T cell leukemias

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Centre for Regenerative Medicine


Curcumin has been shown to possess variety of biological functions including anti-tumor activity. The mechanism by which curcumin inhibit cell proliferation remains poorly understood. In the present report, we investigated the effect of curcumin on the activation of apoptotic pathway in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) malignant cells. Our data demonstrate that curcumin causes dose dependent suppression of proliferation in several T cell lines. Curcumin treatment causes the de-phosphorylation/inactivation of constitutively active AKT, FOXO transcription factor and GSK3. Curcumin also induces release of cytochrome c accompanied by activation of caspase-3 and PARP cleavage. In addition, zVAD-fmk, a universal inhibitor of caspases, prevents caspase-3 activation and abrogates cell death induced by curcumin treatment. Finally, treatment of T-ALL cells with curcumin down-regulated the expression of inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAPs). Taken together, our finding suggest that curcumin suppresses constitutively activated targets of PI3′-kinase (AKT, FOXO and GSK3) in T cells leading to the inhibition of proliferation and induction of caspase-dependent apoptosis.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

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