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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 512907, 7 pages
Research Article

Curcumin-Induced Apoptosis in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma J5 Cells: Critical Role of C a + 2 -Dependent Pathway

1Department of Biomedical Imaging and Radiological Sciences, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 112, Taiwan
2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua 500, Taiwan
3National Institute for Radiological Protection, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing 100088, China
4Department of Biological Science and Technology, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan
5Division of Radioisotope, Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, Taoyuan 325, Taiwan
6Department of Radiological Technology, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung 406, Taiwan

Received 11 September 2011; Revised 1 December 2011; Accepted 18 December 2011

Academic Editor: Cheppail Ramachandran

Copyright © 2012 Wei-Hsun Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The antitumor effects of curcumin, a natural biologically active compound extracted from rhizomes of Curcuma longa, have been studied in many cancer cell types including human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we investigated the effects of Ca2+ on curcumin-induced apoptosis in human HCC J5 cells. The abrogation of mitochondrial membrane potential (Δ Ψ m ), the increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and calcium release were demonstrated with flow cytometry as early as 15 minutes after curcumin treatment. In addition, an increase level of cytochrome c in the cytoplasm which led to DNA fragmentation was observed. To verify the role of Ca2+ in curcumin-induced apoptosis, 1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N, N , N -tetraacetic acid (BAPTA), an intracellular calcium chelator, was applied. Cell viability was increased, but Δ Ψ m , ROS production, activation of caspase 3, and cell death were decreased in J5 cells pretreated with BAPTA for 2 h followed by the treatment of 25 μM curcumin. These results suggest that the curcumin-induced apoptosis in human HCC J5 cells is via mitochondria-dependent pathway and is closely related to the level of intracellular accumulation of calcium.