Curcumin-induced aurora-a suppression not only causes mitotic defect and cell cycle arrest but also alters chemosensitivity to anticancer drugs

Ching Shiun Ke, Hsiao Sheng Liu, Cheng Hsin Yen, Guan Cheng Huang, Hung Chi Cheng, Chi Ying F. Huang, Chun Li Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Overexpression of oncoprotein Aurora-A increases drug resistance and promotes lung metastasis of breast cancer cells. Curcumin is an active anticancer compound in turmeric and curry. Here we observed that Aurora-A protein and kinase activity were reduced in curcumin-treated human breast chemoresistant nonmetastatic MCF-7 and highly metastatic cancer MDA-MB-231 cells. Curcumin acts in a similar manner to Aurora-A small interfering RNA (siRNA), resulting in monopolar spindle formation, S and G2/M arrest, and cell division reduction. Ectopic Aurora-A extinguished the curcumin effects. The anticancer effects of curcumin were enhanced by Aurora-A siRNA and produced additivity and synergism effects in cell division and monopolar phenotype, respectively. Combination treatment with curcumin overrode the chemoresistance to four Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved anticancer drugs (ixabepilone, cisplatin, vinorelbine, or everolimus) in MDA-MB-231 cells, which was characterized by a decrease in cell viability and the occurrence of an additivity or synergy effect. Ectopic expression of Aurora-A attenuated curcumin-enhanced chemosensitivity to these four tested drugs. A similar benefit of curcumin was observed in MCF-7 cells treated with ixabepilone, the primary systemic therapy to patients with invasive breast cancer (stages IIA-IIIB) before surgery. Antagonism effect was observed when MCF-7 cells were treated with curcumin plus cisplatin, vinorelbine or everolimus. Curcumin-induced enhancement in chemosensitivity was paralleled by significant increases (additivity or synergy effect) in apoptosis and cell cycle arrest at S and G2/M phases, the consequences of Aurora-A inhibition. These results suggest that a combination of curcumin with FDA-approved anticancer drugs warrants further assessment with a view to developing a novel clinical treatment for breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-539
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May


  • Aurora-A
  • Chemosensitivity
  • Curcumin
  • FDA-approved anticancer drugs
  • Mitotic defects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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