Doxorubicin enhances curcumin's cytotoxicity in human prostate cancer cells in vitro by enhancing its cellular uptake.

Int J Pharm 2016 Nov;514(1):169-175

150 Stamford Street, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King's College London, Franklin-Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK. Electronic address:

Doxorubicin (DOX) is a widely used drug in cancer treatment. Despite its popularity, it suffers from systemic side effects and susceptibility to drug resistance. Curcumin (CURC), on the other hand, is a drug that recently gained popularity due to its wide range of biological activities, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. Limitations to its clinical translation include its poor water solubility and the need for administration of high doses. Combinatory anti-cancer therapy has been proposed as a common approach to overcome one or more of these challenges. In this work, we propose a combinatory DOX and CURC anti-cancer therapy of prostate cancer cells in vitro. DOX and CURC were administered in the free drug and nanocapsule form, respectively. Cell size and complexity, cytotoxicity and apoptosis were studied by flow cytometry, MTT assay and sub-G1 quantification, respectively. Cellular uptake of CURC nanocapsules (CURC NCs) was quantified by fluorescence microscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography fluorescence detection. Results showed that in vitro treatment with CURC NCs in the presence of subtherapeutic concentrations of DOX, led to significant increase in prostate cancer cells (PC3) apoptosis and death. This was likely due to significantly enhanced CURC uptake by the cells. The study presents a good rationale for pursuing combinatory CURC/DOX therapy in pre-clinical tumor animal models in the near future.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2016.08.003DOI Listing
November 2016
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