We investigated the apoptotic effects of curcumin in the colon carcinoma cell line SW480.
Cells were treated with 40–200 μM curcumin for 24, 48, and 72 h, and the IC50 values were determined for each time interval. BrdU, caspase-3, and TUNEL staining results and the gene expression of FADD, CASP8, and CASP3 were evaluated. Curcumin treatments significantly inhibited cell proliferation and significantly induced apoptosis for 24, 48, and 72 h. The proportion of BrdU-stained cells in the control groups were 58%, 57% and 61% and 28%, 27%, and 30% in the curcumin treatment groups at 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively. The proportion of apoptotic cells was 28%, 29%, and 28% in the control groups and 59%, 61%, and 60% in the curcumin treatment groups at 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively. As expected, caspase-3 staining also revealed a higher number of apoptotic cells in curcumin treatment groups at 24, 48, and 72 h compared to controls. The proportion of Caspase-3-stained cells in the control groups were 23%, 25%, and 24% and 59%, 60%, and 62% in the curcumin treatment groups at 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively. To prove caspase-3 staining results, FADD, CASP8, and CASP3 gene expressions were evaluated by real-time qPCR. Unlike the immunohistochemical results, no statistically significant upregulation was found at 24 and 48 h, while relative gene expressions of FADD, CASP8, and CASP3 was significantly upregulated at 72 h. The expression level increase was 0.88-, 1.19-, and 2.11-fold for FADD, 1.25-, 1.29-, and 1.59-fold for CASP8, and 1.33-, 1.46-, and 3.00-fold for CASP3 at 24, 48, and 72 h, respectively.
These results suggest that curcumin may be a potential protective or treatment agent against colon cancer; however, further studies on curcumin-rich diets and curcumin bioavailability are required.