Background: Uterine leiomyosarcomas generally do not respond well to standard chemotherapy. We previously demonstrated that curcumin, the active ingredient derived from the herb Curcuma longa, inhibits uterine leiomyosarcoma cells in vitro via the inhibition of the AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. As a preclinical investigation, we performed an in vivo study using female nude mice to confirm the therapeutic potential of curcumin against uterine leiomyosarcoma. Methods: Human leiomyosarcoma cells, SK-UT-1, were inoculated in female nude mice to establish subcutaneous tumors. Either vehicle control or 250 mg/kg curcumin was administered intraperitoneally every day for 14 consecutive days, and the mice were then killed. The tumors were measured every 2-3 days. The tumors were processed for immunohistochemical analyses to detect total AKT, phosphorylated AKT, total mTOR, phosphorylated mTOR, and phosphorylated S6. To detect apoptosis, the tumors were stained for cleaved PARP and TUNEL. Ki-67 immunohistochemistry was performed to determine cell viability of the tumors. Results: Compared with the control, curcumin reduced uterine leiomyosarcoma tumor volume and mass significantly with a concordant decrease in mTOR and S6 phosphorylation. However, AKT phosphorylation was not significantly altered. Cleaved PARP and TUNEL staining increased significantly with curcumin administration, indicating the induction of apoptosis. There was no difference in Ki-67 staining between the two groups. Conclusion: Curcumin inhibited uterine leiomyosarcoma tumor growth in vivo by targeting the AKT-mTOR pathway for inhibition.
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