Curcumin Improves the Tumoricidal Effect of Mitomycin C by Suppressing ABCG2 Expression in Stem Cell-Like Breast Cancer Cells

PloS One
Qian-Mei ZhouShi-Bing Su


Cancer cells with stem cell-like properties contribute to the development of resistance to chemotherapy and eventually to tumor relapses. The current study investigated the potential of curcumin to reduce breast cancer stem cell (BCSC) population for sensitizing breast cancer cells to mitomycin C (MMC) both in vitro and in vivo. Curcumin improved the sensitivity of paclitaxel, cisplatin, and doxorubicin in breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, as shown by the more than 2-fold decrease in the half-maximal inhibitory concentration of these chemotherapeutic agents. In addition, curcumin sensitized the BCSCs of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 to MMC by 5- and 15-fold, respectively. The BCSCs could not grow to the fifth generation in the presence of curcumin and MMC. MMC or curcumin alone only marginally reduced the BCSC population in the mammospheres; however, together, they reduced the BCSC population in CD44+CD24-/low cells by more than 75% (29.34% to 6.86%). Curcumin sensitized BCSCs through a reduction in the expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters ABCG2 and ABCC1. We demonstrated that fumitremorgin C, a selective ABCG2 inhibitor, reduced BCSC survival to a similar degree as curcumin did. Curcumin sensitized breast ...Continue Reading


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Methods Mentioned

fluorescence activating cell sorter
flow cytometry

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