Anti-tumor bioactivities of curcumin on mice loaded with gastric carcinoma
Curcumin, a derivative from the dried rhizome of curcuma longa, has been proven to possess anti-tumor effects. However, the detailed molecular mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we aimed to explore the anti-tumor mechanisms of curcumin in treating gastric cancer. BALB/C mice grafted with a mouse gastric adenocarcinoma cell line (MFC) were used as the experimental model. Mice received different doses of curcumin after grafting. Tumor size was measured and tumor weight was determined after tumor inoculation. TUNEL assay and flow cytometric analysis were applied to evaluate the apoptosis of the cancer cells. Serum cytokines IFN-γ, TNF-α, granzyme B and perforin were detected by ELISA assay. The anti-tumor effect was determined using cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) assays and in vivo tumor prevention tests. The expression of DEC1, HIF-1α, STAT3 and VEGF in tumor tissues was examined by immunostaining and analyzed using an Image J analysis system. Compared with controls, tumor growth (size and weight) was significantly inhibited by curcumin treatment (P < 0.05). The apoptotic index in gastric cancer cells was significantly increased in the curcumin treatment group. Splenocyte cells from mice treated with curcumin exhibited higher cytolytic effects on MFC cancer cells than those from mice treated with saline (P < 0.01). The expression of DEC1, HIF-1α, STAT3 and VEGF in tumor tissues was down-regulated after curcumin treatment. Our results indicate that curcumin inhibits the proliferation of gastric carcinoma by inducing the apoptosis of tumor cells, activating immune cells to secrete a large amount of cytokines, and down-regulating the DEC1, HIF-1α, VEGF and STAT3 signal transduction pathways.