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Shakibaei, Mehdi; Kraehe, Patricia; Popper, Bastian; Shayan, Parviz; Goel, Ajay; Buhrmann, Constanze (2015): Curcumin potentiates antitumor activity of 5-fluorouracil in a 3D alginate tumor microenvironment of colorectal cancer. In: BMC Cancer 15:250


Background To overcome the limitations of animal-based experiments, 3D culture models mimicking the tumor microenvironment in vivo are gaining attention. Herein, we investigated an alginate-based 3D scaffold for screening of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or/and curcumin on malignancy of colorectal cancer cells (CRC). Methods The potentiation effects of curcumin on 5-FU against proliferation and metastasis of HCT116 cell and its corresponding isogenic 5-FU-chemoresistant cells (HCT116R) were examined in a 3D-alginate tumor model. Results CRC cells encapsulated in alginate were able to proliferate in 3D-colonospheres in a vivo-like phenotype and invaded from alginate. During cultivation of cells in alginate, we could isolate 3 stages of cells, (1) alginate proliferating (2) invasive and (3) adherent cells. Tumor-promoting factors (CXCR4, MMP-9, NF-κB) were significantly increased in the proliferating and invasive compared to the adherent cells, however HCT116R cells overexpressed factors in comparison to the parental HCT116, suggesting an increase in malignancy behavior. In alginate, curcumin potentiated 5-FU-induced decreased capacity for proliferation, invasion and increased more sensitivity to 5-FU of HCT116R compared to the HCT116 cells. IC50 for HCT116 to 5-FU was 8nM, but co-treatment with 5 μM curcumin significantly reduced 5-FU concentrations in HCT116 and HCT116R cells (0.8nM, 0.1nM, respectively) and these effects were accompanied by down-regulation of NF-κB activation and NF-κB-regulated gene products. Conclusions Our results demonstrate that the alginate provides an excellent tumor microenvironment and indicate that curcumin potentiates and chemosensitizes HCT116R cells to 5-FU-based chemotherapy that may be useful for the treatment of CRC and to overcome drug resistance.