Curcumin-enhanced antitumor effects of sorafenib via regulating the metabolism and tumor microenvironment†
Curcumin, the main active ingredient of turmeric, is widely used as a kind of food additive and also displays a range of pharmacological activities, such as anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, liver and kidney protection, and so forth. Sorafenib was the first targeted agent against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), whose intolerance is related to the promotion of lipid synthesis and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) formation. In this study, biochemical analysis, immune cells composition, the tumor microenvironment, metabolomics, and relative metabolic enzymes and transporters were detected in H22-bearing mice treated with curcumin combined with sorafenib vs. control groups. It was found that curcumin protected against liver cancer progression through reducing the level of alpha fetoprotein in liver tissues, increasing the number of immune cells, like NK cells, inhibiting EMT via the regulation of IL-6/JAK/STAT3 and IL-1β/NF-κB pathways, suppressing anaerobic glycolysis through the inhibition of LDH and HIF-1α, and decreasing the lipid synthesis via the downregulation of FASN, and upregulated the serum HDL-C and mRNA levels of apoA1 in the sorafenib-treated mice. Furthermore, curcumin regulation of the disorder of glycolipid metabolism and EMT was also based on the PI3K/AKT pathway. A docking study was performed and proved the strong affinity between curcumin and the proteins of STAT3, FASN, and AKT. All in all, this experiment provided evidence for the addition of curcumin in the diet to enhance the antitumor efficacy of sorafenib through activating immune function, downregulating EMT, and reversing disorders of the metabolism.