Some phytochemicals with the characteristics of cytotoxicity and anti-metastasis has generated intense interest among the invasive cancer study. Curcumin, one of these anti-cancer phytochemicals, has been reported to induce the cytoprotective enzyme heme oxygenase-1 expression. Since heme oxygenase-1 has been suggested to enhance cancer cell invasion, we investigated the anti-invasive effect of curcumin when heme oxygenase-1 was knocked down in vitro, and the heme oxygenase-1 expression after curcumin treatment in vivo. Curcumin inhibited cell viability and the MMP-2/9 activities of human bladder cancer cells. At 10μM, curcumin inhibited cell viability and cell invasive activity by 15% and 40%, respectively. Ten micrometer curcumin increased the intracellular reactive oxygen species concentration and heme oxygenase-1 protein and mRNA expression in bladder cancer cells. The anti-invasive activity of curcumin was elevated when heme oxygenase-1 was knocked down by siRNA or inhibited by pharmacological inhibitor. In vivo, curcumin induced heme oxygenase-1 protein expression in the lung tissue of murine lung metastasis tumor model and in the bladder tissue of murine orthotopic bladder tumor model. Taken together, our data suggest that curcumin-induced heme oxygenase-1 attenuates the anti-invasive effect of curcumin in cancer therapy, and co-treatment by heme oxygenase-1 inhibitor enhances the anti-invasive activity of curcumin.
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