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Curcumin-induced HDAC inhibition and attenuation of medulloblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo

Seung Joon Lee1, Candice Krauthauser1, Victoria Maduskuie2, Paul T Fawcett2, James M Olson3 and Sigrid A Rajasekaran1*

Author Affiliations

1 Nemours Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, 1701 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803, USA

2 Biomedical Research, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE 19803, USA

3 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109, USA

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:144  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-144

Published: 18 April 2011



Medulloblastoma is the most common brain tumor in children, and its prognosis is worse than for many other common pediatric cancers. Survivors undergoing treatment suffer from serious therapy-related side effects. Thus, it is imperative to identify safer, effective treatments for medulloblastoma. In this study we evaluated the anti-cancer potential of curcumin in medulloblastoma by testing its ability to induce apoptosis and inhibit tumor growth in vitro and in vivo using established medulloblastoma models.


Using cultured medulloblastoma cells, tumor xenografts, and the Smo/Smo transgenic medulloblastoma mouse model, the antitumor effects of curcumin were tested in vitro and in vivo.


Curcumin induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase in medulloblastoma cells. These effects were accompanied by reduced histone deacetylase (HDAC) 4 expression and activity and increased tubulin acetylation, ultimately leading to mitotic catastrophe. In in vivo medulloblastoma xenografts, curcumin reduced tumor growth and significantly increased survival in the Smo/Smo transgenic medulloblastoma mouse model.


The in vitro and in vivo data suggest that curcumin has the potential to be developed as a therapeutic agent for medulloblastoma.