Curcumin based combination therapy for anti-breast cancer: from in vitro drug screening to in vivo efficacy evaluation

Sunhui Chen, Qiuling Liang, Shuping Xie, Ergang Liu, Zhili Yu, Lu Sun, Meong Cheol Shin, Seung Jin Lee, Huining He, Victor C. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


While drug resistance appears to be an inevitable problem of an increasing number of anticancer drugs in monotherapy, combination drug therapy has become a prosperous method to reduce the administered total drug dosages as well as overcome the drug resistance of carcinoma cells. Curcumin, considered to possess multifaceted roles in cancer treatment according to its multiple anti-neoplastic mechanisms as a depressor of chemoresistance, can significantly facilitate its anti-cancer functions and improve therapeutic effects via combination usage with a variety of other drugs with different reaction mechanisms. To explore this possibility, four anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agents that all possess a certain degree of drug resistance problems, including three tyrosine kinase inhibitors (erlotinib, sunitinib and sorafenib) that are acting on different cell pathways and a typical anticancer drug doxorubicin, were combined with curcumin individually to examine the synergistic anti-tumor effect both in vitro and in vivo. Results revealed that sunitinib combined with curcumin at the molar ratio of 0.46 yielded the most potent synergistic effect in vitro, and was therefore chosen for further animal evaluation. To further enhance the anticancer effect, bovine serum albumin (BSA) nanoparticles were utilized as a carrier to deliver the selected drug combination in situ. Preliminary in vivo findings confirmed our hypothesis of being able to maintain a similar injected drug ratio for prolonged time periods in tested animals by our approach, thereby maximizing the therapeutic potency yet minimizing the toxicity of these drugs. This work could open up a new avenue on combination drug therapy and realization the clinical utility of such drugs. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • bovine serum albumin (BSA)
  • curcumin
  • nano-carriers
  • sunitinib
  • synergistic effect


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