Anti-proliferative and Cytotoxic Effects of Curcumin in MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cells

Hossein Abbaspour, Akbar Safipour Afshar


Curcumin is the effective constituents of Curcuma longa, which inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Prevention of breast cancer, as one of the common cancer type with serious health problem, is an area of interest in breast cancer research. In this study, we have evaluated the effects of curcumin on the cell proliferation of human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) compared to non-cancer line (MCF-10A). The cell lines were subjected to increasing doses of curcumin ranging from 0 to 30 μg/ml. Cell viability was quantified by MTT assay. In vitro clonogenic survival assay was performed on MCF-7 cells.  Curcumin inhibited the growth of malignant cells in a time and dose-dependent manner. Calculated IC50 value for MCF-7 cells in 48 h was 12 μg/ml.  Overall, 45%–70% decrease in colony formation was observed in MCF-7 cells treated by 30-60 μg/ml curcumin respectively. The result of our study confirms the potential cytotoxic effects of curcumin in breast cancer cell line. It could be considered as a potential chemopreventive agent in breast cancer treatment.


Anticancer; Curcumin; Cytotoxicity; Breast Cancer

Full Text:

PDF xml


Oliveira A.S., Sousa E., Vasconcelos M.H., Pinto M., 2015. Curcumin: A Natural Lead for Potential New Drug Candidates. Curr Med Chem. 22(36), 4196-4232.

Deguchi A., 2015. Curcumin targets in inflammation and cancer. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 15(2), 88-96.

Vallianou N.G., Evangelopoulos A., Schizas N., Kazazis C., 2015. Potential anticancer properties and mechanisms of action of curcumin. Anticancer Res. 35(2), 645-651.

Mohankumar K., Pajaniradje S., Sridharan S., Singh V. K., Ronsard L., Banerjea A.C., Benson C.S., Coumar M.S., Rajagopalan R., 2014. Mechanism of apoptotic induction in human breast cancer cell, MCF-7, by an analog of curcumin in comparison with curcumin--an in vitro and in silico approach. Chem Biol Interact. 210, 51-63.

Chen B., Zhang Y., Wang Y., Rao J., Jiang X., Xu Z., 2014. Curcumin inhibits proliferation of breast cancer cells through Nrf2-mediated down-regulation of Fen1 expression. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 143, 11-18.

Kumaravel M., Sankar P., Rukkumani R., 2012. Antiproliferative effect of an analog of curcumin bis-1,7-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-hepta-1,6-diene-3,5-dione in human breast cancer cells. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 16(14), 1900-1907.

Okazaki Y., Iqbal M., Okada S., 2005. Suppressive effects of dietary curcumin on the increased activity of renal ornithine decarboxylase in mice treated with a renal carcinogen, ferric nitrilotriacetate. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1740(3), 357-366.

McDonald E.S., Clark A.S., Tchou J., Zhang P., Freedman G.M., 2016. Clinical Diagnosis and Management of Breast Cancer. J Nucl Med. 57 Suppl 1, 9s-16s.

Nagaraju G.P., Aliya S., Zafar S.F., Basha R., Diaz R., El-Rayes B. F., 2012. The impact of curcumin on breast cancer. Integr Biol (Camb). 4(9), 996-1007.

Wang Y., Yu J., Cui R., Lin J., Ding X., 2016. Curcumin in Treating Breast Cancer: A Review. J Lab Autom.

Tilghman S. L., Rhodes L.V., Bratton M. R., Carriere P., Preyan L.C., Boue S.M., Vasaitis T.S., McLachlan J.A., Burow M. E., 2013. Phytoalexins, miRNAs and breast cancer: a review of phytochemical-mediated miRNA regulation in breast cancer. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 24(1 Suppl), 36-46.

Ko E.Y., Moon A., 2015. Natural Products for Chemoprevention of Breast Cancer. J Cancer Prev. 20(4), 223-231.

Kumar P., Kadakol A., Shasthrula P.K., Mundhe N.A., Jamdade V.S., Barua C.C., Gaikwad A.B., 2015. Curcumin as an adjuvant to breast cancer treatment. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 15(5), 647-656.

Devassy J.G., Nwachukwu I.D., Jones P.J., 2015. Curcumin and cancer: barriers to obtaining a health claim. Nutr Rev. 73(3), 155-165.

Oyagbemi A.A., Saba A.B., Ibraheem A.O., 2009. Curcumin: from food spice to cancer prevention. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 10(6), 963-967.

Tabatabaei Mirakabad F.S., Akbarzadeh A., Milani M., Zarghami N., Taheri-Anganeh M., Zeighamian V., Badrzadeh F., Rahmati-Yamchi M., 2016. A Comparison between the cytotoxic effects of pure curcumin and curcumin-loaded PLGA-PEG nanoparticles on the MCF-7 human breast cancer cell line. Artif Cells Nanomed Biotechnol. 44(1), 423-430.

Lv Z.D., Liu X. P., Zhao W.J., Dong Q., Li F N., Wang H. B., Kong B., 2014. Curcumin induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells and inhibits tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 7(6), 2818-2824.

Guan F., Ding Y., Zhang Y., Zhou Y., Li M., Wang C., 2016. Curcumin Suppresses Proliferation and Migration of MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells through Autophagy-Dependent Akt Degradation. PLoS One. 11(1), e0146553.

Shanmugam M. K., Rane G., Kanchi M. M., Arfuso F., Chinnathambi A., Zayed M. E., Alharbi S. A., Tan B. K., Kumar A. P., Sethi G., 2015. The multifaceted role of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment. Molecules. 20(2), 2728-2769.

Kumar G., Mittal S., Sak K., Tuli H.S., 2016. Molecular mechanisms underlying chemopreventive potential of curcumin: Current challenges and future perspectives. Life Sci. 148, 313-328.

Geng C., Li J., Ding F., Wu G., Yang Q., Sun Y., Zhang Z., Dong T., Tian X., 2016. Curcumin suppresses 4-hydroxytamoxifen resistance in breast cancer cells by targeting SLUG/Hexokinase 2 pathway. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 473(1), 147-153.

Akkoc Y., Berrak O., Arisan E. D., Obakan P., Coker-Gurkan A., Palavan-Unsal N., 2015. Inhibition of PI3K signaling triggered apoptotic potential of curcumin which is hindered by Bcl-2 through activation of autophagy in MCF-7 cells. Biomed Pharmacother. 71, 161-171.

Park S., Cho D. H., Andera L., Suh N., Kim I., 2013. Curcumin enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis of breast cancer cells by regulating apoptosis-related proteins. Mol Cell Biochem. 383(1-2), 39-48.

Verma S.P., Salamone E., Goldin B., 1997. Curcumin and Genistein, Plant Natural Products, Show Synergistic Inhibitory Effects on the Growth of Human Breast Cancer MCF-7 Cells Induced by Estrogenic Pesticides. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 233(3), 692-696.

Ramachandran C., Fonseca H. B., Jhabvala P., Escalon E.A., Melnick S.J., Curcumin inhibits telomerase activity through human telomerase reverse transcritpase in MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. Cancer Lett. 184(1), 1-6.

Holy J.M., 2002. Curcumin disrupts mitotic spindle structure and induces micronucleation in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Mutat Res. 518(1), 71-84.

Yang J., Cao Y., Sun J., Zhang Y., 2010. Curcumin reduces the expression of Bcl-2 by upregulating miR-15a and miR-16 in MCF-7 cells. Medical Oncology. 27(4), 1114-1118.

Zhou Q. M., Wang X. F., Liu X. J., Zhang H., Lu Y. Y., Su S. B., 2011. Curcumin enhanced antiproliferative effect of mitomycin C in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells in vitro and in vivo. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 32(11), 1402-1410.

Cheah Y. H., Nordin F. J., Sarip R., Tee T.T., Azimahtol H.L., Sirat H.M., Rashid B.A., Abdullah N.R., Ismail Z., 2009. Combined xanthorrhizol-curcumin exhibits synergistic growth inhibitory activity via apoptosis induction in human breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231. Cancer Cell Int. 9, 1.

Chiu T. L., Su C.C., 2009. Curcumin inhibits proliferation and migration by increasing the Bax to Bcl-2 ratio and decreasing NF-kappaBp65 expression in breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. Int J Mol Med. 23(4), 469-475.

Fan H., Liang Y., Jiang B., Li X., Xun H., Sun J., He W., Lau H. T., Ma X., 2016. Curcumin inhibits intracellular fatty acid synthase and induces apoptosis in human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. Oncol Rep. 35(5), 2651-2656.

Sun S. H., Huang H. C., Huang C., Lin J. K., 2012. Cycle arrest and apoptosis in MDA-MB-231/Her2 cells induced by curcumin. Eur J Pharmacol. 690(1-3), 22-30.


  • There are currently no refbacks.