Original Articles

Effect of curcumin on multidrug resistance in resistant human gastric carcinoma cell line SGC7901/VCR

Xiao-qing Tang, Hu Bi, Jian-qiang Feng, Jian-guo Cao


Aim: To investigate the reversal effects of curcumin on multidrug resistance (MDR) in a resistant human gastric carcinoma cell line.
Methods: The cytotoxic effect of vincristine (VCR) was evaluated by MTT assay. The cell apoptosis induced by VCR was determined by propidium iodide (PI)-stained flow cytometry (FCM) and a morphological assay using acridine orange (AO)/ethidium bromide (EB) dual staining. P-glycoprotein (P-gp) function was demonstrated by the accumulation and efflux of rhodamine123 (Rh123) using FCM. The expression of P-gp and the activation of caspase-3 were measured by FCM using fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-P-gp and anti-cleaved caspase-3 antibodies, respectively.
Results: Curcumin, at concentrations of 5 mumol/L, 10 mumol/L, or 20 mumol/L, had no cytotoxic effect on a parent human gastric carcinoma cell line (SGC7901) or its VCR-resistant variant cell line (SGC7901/VCR). The VCR-IC50 value of the SGC7901/ VCR cells was 45 times more than that of the SGC7901cells and the SGC7901/VCR cells showed apoptotic resistance to VCR. SGC7901/VCR cells treated with 5 mumol/L, 10 mumol/L, or 20 mumol/L curcumin decreased the IC50 value of VCR and promoted VCR-mediated apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Curcumin (10 mumol/L) increasedRh123 accumulation and inhibited the efflux of Rh123 inSGC7901/ VCR cells, but did not change the accumulation and efflux of Rh123 in SGC7901 cells. P-gp was overexpressed in SGC7901/VCR cells, whereas it was downregulated after a 24–h treatment with curcumin (10 mumol/L). Resistant cells treated with 1 mumol/L VCR alone showed 77% lower levels of caspase-3 activation relative to SGC7901 cells, but the activation of caspase-3 in the resistant cell line increased by 44% when cells were treated with VCR in combination with curcumin.
Conclusion: Curcumin can reverse the MDR of the human gastric carcinoma SGC7901/VCR cell line. This might be associated with decreased P-gp function and expression, and the promotion of caspase-3 activation in MDR cells.