Curcumin and cancer biology: Focusing regulatory effects in different signalling pathways

PMID: 33837579
Journal: Phytotherapy research : PTR (volume: , issue: , Phytother Res 2021 Apr;)
Published: 2021-04-09

Bhatia M, Bhalerao M, Cruz-Martins N, Kumar D


Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. Till date, many such effective treatments are available, for example chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy, but there are severe associated side effects, such as increased infection risk, constipation, hair loss, anaemia, among others. Thus, the need for effective therapeutic strategies and screening methodology arises. Researchers around the world are increasingly trying to discover anticancer therapies with as few side effects as possible and many are now focusing on phytochemicals, like curcumin. Curcumin is a bright yellow substance isolated from the plant rhizomes of Curcuma longa L. To this molecule a high therapeutic benefit has been underlined, being able to alter the development of cancer by different mechanisms, such as regulating multiple microRNA expression, modifying a series of signalling pathways, that is, Akt, Bcl-2, PTEN, p53, Notch, and Erbb. Another major pathway that curcumin targets is the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) gene expression. In fact, MMPs are responsible for the degradation of the cell-extracellular matrix, which can lead to the diseased condition and many different pathways contribute to its activity, such as JAK/STAT, NF-κB, MAPK/ERK, COX-2, ROS, TGF-β, among others. In this review, we have attempted to describe the curcumin regulatory effect on different cell signalling pathways involved in the progression of different types of cancers.