Curcumin, a naturally occurring phytochemical responsible for the colour of turmeric shows a wide range of pharmacological properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. We have earlier shown that curcumin in the presence of Cu(II) causes strand cleavage in DNA through generation of reactive oxygen species, particularly the hydroxyl radical. Thus, curcumin shows both antioxidant as well as pro-oxidant effects. In order to understand the chemical basis of various biological properties of curcumin, we have studied the structure-activity relationship between curcumin and its two naturally occurring derivatives namely demethoxycurcumin (dmC) and bisdemethoxycurcumin (bdmC). Curcumin was found to be the most effective in the DNA cleavage reaction and a reducer of Cu(II) followed by dmC and bdmC. The rate of formation of hydroxyl radicals by the three curcuminoids also showed a similar pattern. The relative antioxidant activity was examined by studying the effect of these curcuminoids on cleavage of plasmid DNA by Fe(II)-EDTA system (hydroxyl radicals) and the generation of singlet oxygen by riboflavin. The results indicate that curcumin is considerably more active both as an antioxidant as well as an oxidative DNA cleaving agent. The DNA cleavage activity is the consequence of binding of Cu(II) to various sites on the curcumin molecule. Based on the present results, we propose three binding sites for Cu(II). Two of the sites are provided by the phenolic and methoxy groups on the two benzene rings and the third site is due to the presence of 1,3-diketone system between the rings. Furthermore, both the antioxidant as well as pro-oxidant effects of curcuminoids are determined by the same structural moieties.
Modulation of pathological angiogenesis by curcumin (diferuloylmethane), the active principle of turmeric, seems to be an important possibility meriting mechanistic investigations. In this report, we have studied the effect of curcumin on the growth of Ehrlich ascites tumor cells and endothelial cells in vitro. Further, regulation of tumor angiogenesis by modulation of angiogenic ligands and their receptor gene expression in tumor and endothelial cells, respectively, by curcumin was investigated. Curcumin, when injected intraperitoneally (i.p) into mice, effectively decreased the formation of ascites fluid by 66% in EAT bearing mice in vivo. Reduction in the number of EAT cells and human umbelical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in vitro by curcumin, without being cytotoxic to these cells, is attributed to induction of apoptosis by curcumin, as is evident by an increase in cells with fractional DNA content seen in our results on FACS analysis. However, curcumin had no effect on the growth of NIH3T3 cells. Curcumin proved to be a potent angioinhibitory compound, as demonstrated by inhibition of angiogenesis in two in vivo angiogenesis assay systems, viz. peritoneal angiogenesis and chorioallantoic membrane assay. The angioinhibitory effect of curcumin in vivo was corroborated by the results on down-regulation of the expression of proangiogenic genes, in EAT, NIH3T3, and endothelial cells by curcumin. Our results on Northern blot analysis clearly indicated a time-dependent (0-24h) inhibition by curcumin of VEGF, angiopoietin 1 and 2 gene expression in EAT cells, VEGF and angiopoietin 1 gene expression in NIH3T3 cells, and KDR gene expression in HUVECs. Further, decreased VEGF levels in conditioned media from cells treated with various doses of curcumin (1 microM-1mM) for various time periods (0-24h) confirm its angioinhibitory action at the level of gene expression. Because of its non-toxic nature, curcumin could be further developed to treat chronic diseases that are associated with extensive neovascularization.
Phospholipid hydroperoxides (PLOOH) in the plasma, red blood cells (RBC) and liver of mice were measured after dietary supplementation for one week (1% w/w of diet) with a turmeric extract (curcuminoid), hexane extract of rosemary, and supercritical CO2-extracted capsicum pigment (supplemented with alpha-tocopherol to prevent fading). A lower PLOOH level was found in RBC of the spice extract-fed mice (65-74% of the non-supplemented control mice). The liver lipid peroxidizability induced with Fe2+/ascorbic acid was effectively suppressed by dietary supplementation with the turmeric and capsicum extracts to mice. While no difference in the plasma lipids was observed, the liver triacylglycerol concentration of the turmeric extract-fed mice was markedly reduced to one-half of the level in the control mice. These findings suggest that these spice extracts could act antioxidatively in vivo by food supplementation, and that the turmeric extract has the ability to prevent the deposition of triacylglycerols in the liver.
Curcuminoids from Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae) protected normal human keratinocytes from hypoxanthine/ xanthine oxidase injury. Since curcuminoids synergistically inhibited nitroblue tetrazolium reduction, a decrease in superoxide radical formation leading to lower levels of cytotoxic hydrogen peroxide was proposed as an explanation for this protective effect.