Curcumin targets fibroblast–tumor cell interactions in oral squamous cell carcinoma

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Abstract

Co-culture of periodontal ligament fibroblasts (PDLs) and SCC-25 oral squamous carcinoma cells (OSCC) results in conversion of PDLs into carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and induces epithelial-to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of OSCC tumor cells. We hypothesized that Curcumin targets this dynamic mutual interaction between CAFs and tumor cells. Normal and 2 μM Curcumin-treated co-culture were performed for 4 days, followed by analysis of tumor cell invasivity, mRNA/protein expression of EMT-markers and mediators, activity measure of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), and western blot analysis of signal transduction in tumor cells and fibroblasts. In Curcumin-treated co-culture, in tumor cells, the levels of nuclear factor κB (NFκBα) and early response kinase (ERK)—decreased, in fibroblasts, integrin αv protein synthesis decreased compared to corresponding cells in normal co-culture. The signal modulatory changes induced by Curcumin caused decreased release of EMT-mediators in CAFs and reversal of EMT in tumor cells, which was associated with decreased invasion. These data confirm the palliative potential of Curcumin in clinical application.

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