Evaluation of the Anti-Cancer Effect of Curcumin on MCF-7 Cells in 3D Culture Conditions to Increase the Efficacy of Breast Cancer Treatment

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Medical Radiation Engineering, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Biology, Faculty of Basic Sciences, Imam Hossein Comprehensive University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Nuclear Physics, Imam Hossein Comprehensive University, Tehran, Iran

4 Faculty of sciences, Department of biology, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran


Introduction: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Information published by The Iranian Cancer Research Center in 2019 shows that one of every 10 to 15 women is afflicted with this cancer. As one of the active ingredients of turmeric, curcumin has a wide range of biological properties, such as antioxidant and anti-cancer activity. This study aimed to evaluate the anti-cancer effects of curcumin on breast cancer cells in 3-Dimensional (3D) culture conditions.
Materials and Methods: To achieve a 3D environment, we used encapsulation of cells in alginate hydrogel. The anti-cancer effects of curcumin at concentrations of 20, 40, and 80 μM on MCF-7 breast cancer cells in 3D culture were evaluated by MTT, neutral red, comet assay, cytochrome c, Nitric Oxide (NO), catalase, and glutathione assays. The culture medium was used as the negative control and the cell-containing medium was used as the positive control. Data were analyzed by two-way ANOVA using GraphPad InStat software, and the significance was considered at the level of P<0.05.
Results: Curcumin reduces the production of cellular NO and increases the production of catalase and glutathione, which confirms the results of the NO test. In addition, the release of cytochrome c from Mitochondria from cells treated with different concentrations of curcumin compared to control cells are significant. The evaluation of the toxicity effect of curcumin at concentrations of 20, 40, and 80 μM using comet assay showed that this substance induces apoptosis in MCF-7 cells in a dose-dependent manner.
Conclusions: The findings of this study showed that the anti-cancer effect of curcumin on MCF-7 cells under 3D culture conditions could increase the effectiveness of treatment. The Cell survival rate actually depended on curcumin concentration.