Curcumin disrupts uterine leiomyosarcoma cells through AKT-mTOR pathway inhibition

Tze Fang Wong, Takashi Takeda, Bin Li, Kenji Tsuiji, Mari Kitamura, Akiko Kondo, Nobuo Yaegashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Uterine leiomyosarcoma generally has an unfavorable response to standard chemotherapy. The loss of PTEN which results in constitutive AKT-mTOR activation causes an increase in leiomyosarcoma formation in mice. The active ingredient derived from the herb Curcuma longa, curcumin, shows antitumor properties in a variety of cancer cell lines by altering a number of oncogenic pathways. To explore the possibility of curcumin as an alternative to standard chemotherapy, we decided to investigate curcumin's antitumor effect on uterine leiomyosarcoma cells. Methods: Human leiomyosarcoma cell lines, SKN and SK-UT-1, were cultured for in vitro experiments. Rapamycin or curcumin was added in different doses and their effect on cell growth was detected by MTS assay. The influence of rapamycin or curcumin on AKT, mTOR, p70S6 and S6 phosphorylation and protein expression was detected by Western Blotting. The ability of rapamycin or curcumin to induce apoptosis was determined by Western blotting using cleaved-PARP specific antibody, Caspase-3 activity assay and TUNEL assay. Results: Both rapamycin and curcumin significantly reduced SKN cell proliferation. Curcumin inhibited mTOR, p70S6 and S6 phosphorylation similar with rapamycin. Cleaved PARP, caspase-3 activity and DNA fragmentation increased proportional with curcumin concentration. At a high concentration, curcumin significantly induced apoptosis in SKN cells, but not rapamycin. Conclusions: Curcumin inhibited uterine leiomyosarcoma cells' growth by targeting the AKT-mTOR pathway for inhibition. However, rapamycin, a specific mTOR inhibitor, did not induce apoptosis in SKN cells unlike curcumin that also has a pro-apoptotic potential in SKN cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalGynecologic Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jul 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Curcumin
  • S6
  • Uterine leiomyosarcoma
  • mTOR
  • p70S6

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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