Experimental and clinical studies on radiation and curcumin in human glioma

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Purpose: There is progressing evidence for the anti-cancer potential of the natural compound and dietary spice curcumin. Curcumin has been ascribed to be cytotoxic for various tumour cell types, to inhibit cell proliferation and to interfere with the cellular oxidant status. The compound has been notified as a therapeutic agent with radiosensitizing potential in brain tumour therapy. We considered the rationale to combine curcumin with radiation in the treatment of human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Method: Determination of clonogenic cell survival following exposure of U251 human glioma cells to single dose (1–6 Gy) and fractionated irradiation (5 daily fractions of 2 Gy) without and with curcumin. Additional literature search focused on the interaction between curcumin and radiotherapy in experimental and clinical studies on human glioma. Results: No interaction was found on the survival of U251 human glioma cells after irradiation in combination with curcumin at clinically achievable concentrations. Experimental in vitro and in vivo data together with clinical bioavailability data from the literature do not give evidence for a radiosensitizing effect of curcumin. Reported GBM intratumoural curcumin concentrations are too low to either exert an own cytotoxic effect or to synergistically interact with radiation. Novel approaches are being explored to increase the bioavailability of curcumin and to facilitate transport over the blood–brain barrier, aimed to reach therapeutic curcumin levels at the tumour site. Conclusion: There is neither a biological nor clinical rationale for using curcumin as radiosensitizer in the therapy of GBM patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Curcuma longa
  • Curcumin
  • GBM
  • Nanoparticles
  • Radiation
  • Radiosensitization

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