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Bachmeier, Beatrice E.; Nerlich, Andreas G.; Iancu, Cristina M.; Cilli, Michele; Schleicher, Erwin; Vene, Roberta; Dell'Eva, Raffaella; Jochum, Marianne; Albini, Adriana; Pfeffer, Ulrich (2007): The chemopreventive polyphenol Curcumin prevents hematogenous breast cancer metastases in immunodeficient mice. In: Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, No. 1-4: pp. 137-152




Dissemination of metastatic cells probably occurs long before diagnosis of the primary tumor. Metastasis during early phases of carcinogenesis in high risk patients is therefore a potential prevention target. The plant polyphenol Curcumin has been proposed for dietary prevention of cancer. We therefore examined its effects on the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 in vitro and in a mouse metastasis model. Curcumin strongly induces apoptosis in MDA- MB- 231 cells in correlation with reduced activation of the survival pathway NF kappa B, as a consequence of diminished I kappa B and p65 phosphorylation. Curcumin also reduces the expression of major matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) due to reduced NF kappa B activity and transcriptional downregulation of AP-1. NF kappa B/p65 silencing is sufficient to downregulate c-jun and MMP expression. Reduced NF kappa B/AP-1 activity and MMP expression lead to diminished invasion through a reconstituted basement membrane and to a significantly lower number of lung metastases in immunodeficient mice after intercardiac injection of 231 cells (p=0.0035). 68% of Curcumin treated but only 17% of untreated animals showed no or very few lung metastases, most likely as a consequence of down-regulation of NF kappa B/AP-1 dependent MMP expression and direct apoptotic effects on circulating tumor cells but not on established metastases. Dietary chemoprevention of metastases appears therefore feasible. Copyright (c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.