The Potential Utility of Curcumin in the Treatment of HER-2-Overexpressed Breast Cancer: An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison Study with Herceptin.
HER-2 is an important oncoprotein overexpressed in about 15-25% of breast cancers. We hypothesized that the ability of curcumin to downregulate HER-2 oncoprotein and inhibit the signal transduction pathway of PI3K/Akt, MAPK, and NF-?B activation may be important in the treatment of HER-2-overexpressed breast cancer. To examine the effect of curcumin on breast cancer cells, MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, MCF-10A, BT-474, and SK-BR-3-hr (a herceptin resistant strain from SK-BR-3) cells were used for in vitro analysis. The in vivo effect of curcumin on HER-2-overexpressed breast cancer was investigated with the HER-2-overexpressed BT-474 xenograft model. Cell growth, cell cycle change, the antimobility effect, signal transduction, and xenograft volume analysis between groups treated with herceptin and/or curcumin were tested. Curcumin decreased the cell growth of various breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, MCF-10A, BT-474, and SK-BR-3-hr). In Western blot analysis, the phosphorylation of Akt, MAPK, and expression of NF-?B were reduced in BT-474 cells, but not in SK-BR-3-hr cells, after treatment with herceptin. When treated with curcumin, the HER-2 oncoprotein, phosphorylation of Akt, MAPK and expression of NF-?B were decreased in both BT-474 and SK-BR-3-hr cells. In the BT-474 xenograft model, though not as much as herceptin, curcumin did effectively decrease the tumor size. The combination of curcumin with herceptin was not better than herceptin alone; however, the combination of taxol and curcumin had an antitumor effect comparable with taxol and herceptin. The results suggested that curcumin has potential as a treatment for HER-2-overexpressed breast cancer.