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Author Notes:

Email Address: aamin9@emory.edu

Conceived and designed the experiments: ARA MAR DMS. Performed the experiments: ARA MAR AH.

Analyzed the data: ARA MAR DMS. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: ZGC. Wrote the paper: ARA ZGC MAR FRK DMS.

We are thankful to Anthea Hammond for scientific editing.

Co-author Dr. A. R. M. Ruhul Amin is an academic editor of PLOS ONE. This does not alter the authors' adherence to PLOS ONE Editorial policies and criteria.


Research Funding:

NCI R03CA159369, NCI R03CA171663, NCI P50 CA128613 and a Robbins Scholar Award of the Emory Winship Cancer Institute.


  • Science & Technology
  • Multidisciplinary Sciences
  • Science & Technology - Other Topics
  • BCL-2
  • P53

Curcumin Induces Apoptosis of Upper Aerodigestive Tract Cancer Cells by Targeting Multiple Pathways


Journal Title:



Volume 10, Number 4


, Pages e0124218-e0124218

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Curcumin, a natural compound isolated from the Indian spice "Haldi" or "curry powder", has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for many ailments. Recently, the potential use of curcumin in cancer prevention and therapy urges studies to uncover the molecular mechanisms associated with its anti-tumor effects. In the current manuscript, we investigated the mechanism of curcumin-induced apoptosis in upper aerodigestive tract cancer cell lines and showed that curcumin-induced apoptosis is mediated by the modulation of multiple pathways such as induction of p73, and inhibition of p-AKT and Bcl-2. Treatment of cells with curcumin induced both p53 and the related protein p73 in head and neck and lung cancer cell lines. Inactivation of p73 by dominant negative p73 significantly protected cells from curcumin-induced apoptosis, whereas ablation of p53 by shRNA had no effect. Curcumin treatment also strongly inhibited p-AKT and Bcl-2 and overexpression of constitutively active AKT or Bcl-2 significantly inhibited curcumin-induced apoptosis. Taken together, our findings suggest that curcumin-induced apoptosis is mediated via activating tumor suppressor p73 and inhibiting p-AKT and Bcl-2.

Copyright information:

© 2015 Amin et al.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits distribution, public display, and publicly performance, making multiple copies, distribution of derivative works, provided the original work is properly cited. This license requires credit be given to copyright holder and/or author, copyright and license notices be kept intact.

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