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Curcumin differentially sensitizes malignant glioma cells to TRAIL/Apo2L-mediated apoptosis through activation of procaspases and release of cytochrome c from mitochondria
Xiaohua Gao, Dorrah Deeb, Hao Jiang, Yong B. Liu, Scott A. Dulchavsky and Subhash C. Gautam

Malignant glioma cells are generally resistant or only weakly sensitive to tumor necrosis factor family of cell death-inducing ligands, including TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)/Apo2L. The chemopreventive activity of polyphenolic compounds present in plant-derived food products has been well recognized in epidemiological studies; however, the mechanism of chemoprevention by these dietary constituents largely remains unknown. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in the spice turmeric, has profound anti-inflammatory activity and exhibits chemopreventive and tumor growth inhibitory activity. In the present study, we investigated whether curcumin sensitizes malignant glioma cell lines U251MG and U87MG to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Treatment with low concentrations (5-20 mgM) of curcumin alone had no effect on the viability of either cell line. At low concentration (5 ng/ml) TRAIL induced cytotoxicity in U251MG cells but not in U87MG cells. Whereas curcumin at subtoxic concentration sensitized U87MG cells to TRAIL-induced cytotoxicity, it had no effect on TRAIL-mediated cytotoxicity in U251MG cells. The combined curcumin and TRAIL treatment enhanced accumulation of hypo-diploid U87MG cells in sub G1 cell cycle phase and induced the cleavage of procaspases-3, -8, -9 and release of cytochrome c from mitochondria. These data indicate that curcumin differentially sensitizes glioma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis through the activation of both extrinsic (receptor-mediated) and intrinsic (chemical-induced) pathways of apoptosis. These results define a potential use of curcumin to sensitize glioma cells for TRAIL-mediated immunotherapy.

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