2017 Volume 40 Issue 9 Pages 1515-1524
Curcumin, a polyphenol derived from the rhizome of the naturally occurring plant Curcuma longa, has various pharmacological actions such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In this paper, we evaluated the role of its internal metabolite, curcumin β-D-glucuronide (curcumin monoglucuronide, CMG), by investigating curcumin kinetics and metabolism in the blood. Firstly, we orally administered highly bioavailable curcumin to rats to elucidate its kinetics, and observed not only the free-form of curcumin, but also, curcumin in a conjugated form, within the portal vein. We confirmed that curcumin is conjugated when it passes through the intestinal wall. CMG, one of the metabolites, was then orally administered to rats. Despite its high aqueous solubility compared to free-form curcumin, it was not well absorbed. In addition, CMG was injected intravenously into rats in order to assess its metabolic behavior in the blood. Interestingly, high levels of free-form curcumin, thought to be sufficiently high to be pharmacologically active, were observed. The in vivo antitumor effects of CMG following intravenous injection were then evaluated in tumor-bearing mice with the HCT116 human colon cancer cell line. The tumor volume within the CMG group was significantly less than that of the control group. Moreover, there was no significant loss of body weight in the CMG group compared to the control group. These results suggest that CMG could be used as an anticancer agent without the serious side effects that most anticancer agents have.