Insulin-like growth factors are more effective than progastrin in reversing proapoptotic effects of curcumin: Critical role of p38MAPK

Pomila Singh, Shubhashish Sarkar, Shahid Umar, William Rengifo-Cam, Amar P. Singh, Thomas G. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Progastrin and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) stimulate hyperproliferation of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) via endocrine/paracrine routes; hyperproliferation is a known risk factor for colon carcinogenesis. In the present study, inhibitory potency of curcumin in the presence or absence of progastrin and/or IGF-II was examined. Progastrin and IGF-II significantly increased proliferation of an immortalized IEC cell line, IEC-18, whereas curcumin decreased the proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. IGF-II was significantly more effective than progastrin in reversing antiproliferative effects of curcumin and reversed proapoptotic effects of curcumin by >80%; progastrin was relatively ineffective toward reversing proapoptotic effects of curcumin. IEC-18 clones were generated to overexpress either progastrin (IEC-PG) or hIGF-II (IEC-IGF). Proliferation of IEC-PG and IECIGF clones was increased, compared with that of control clones. Curcumin significantly reduced proliferation of IEC-PG, but not IEC-IGF, clones. Similarly, a human colon cancer cell line, Caco-2 (which expresses autocrine IGF-II), was relatively resistant to inhibitory effects of curcumin. However, Caco-2 cells treated with anti-IGF-II-antibodies were rendered sensitive to inhibitory effects of curcumin. Significant differences in inhibitory potency of curcumin against PG- vs. IGF-II-stimulated growth of IEC-18 cells were not reflected by differences in curcumin-mediated inhibition of activated (phosphorylated) ERKs/IKKα/β/p65NF-κB and c-Src in wild-type (wt)IEC-18 cells, in response to the two growth factors. Surprisingly, curcumin was almost ineffective in reducing IGF-II-stimulated activation of p38MAPK but significantly reduced progastrin-stimulated phosphorylation of p38. Treatment with a p38MAPK inhibitor resulted in loss of protective effects of IGF-II against inhibitory effects of curcumin. These novel findings suggest that growth factor profile of patients and tumors may dictate inhibitory potency of curcumin and that combination of curcumin + p38MAPK inhibitor may be required for reducing hyperproliferative or tumorigenic response of IECs to endocrine and autocrine IGFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G551-G562
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Caco-2 cells
  • IEC-18 cells
  • NF-κB
  • c-Src

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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