Curcumin Induces p53-Null Hepatoma Cell Line Hep3B Apoptosis through the AKT-PTEN-FOXO4 Pathway
BACKGROUND Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) refers to the process in which highly invasive cancer cells mimic endothelial cells by forming blood channels. In the present study, we investigated the effect of curcumin, a natural product from turmeric, on VM of SK-Hep-1 human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. MATERIALS AND METHODS In vitro VM, cell migration, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) production of HCC cells were determined by Matrigel tube formation assay, Transwell cell migration assay, and gelatin zymography, respectively. Effects of curcumin on AKT, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathways were determined by immunoblot analysis. RESULTS At non-cytotoxic concentrations, curcumin inhibited VM, reduced cell migration and MMP9 production of the HCC cells. Further study revealed that the anti-VM effect of curcumin was due to inhibition of AKT and STAT3 phosphorylation, as confirmed by specific inhibitors. CONCLUSION Curcumin presents proven potential as an anti-VM agent in HCC cells, through down-regulation of STAT3 and AKT signaling pathways.