Curcumin prevents As3+-induced carcinogenesis through regulation of GSK3β/Nrf2

Chin Med. 2021 Nov 10;16(1):116. doi: 10.1186/s13020-021-00527-x.


BACKGROUND: Arsenic (As3+) is a carcinogen with considerable environmental and occupational relevancy. Its mechanism of action and methods of prevention remain to be investigated. Previous studies have demonstrated that ROS is responsible for As3+-induced cell transformation, which is considered as the first stage of As3+ carcinogenesis. The NF-E2 p45-related factor-2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway regulates the cellular antioxidant response, and activation of Nrf2 has recently been shown to limit oxidative damage following exposure to As3+ METHODS AND RESULTS: In this study, molecular docking was used to virtually screen natural antioxidant chemical databases and identify molecules that interact with the ligand-binding site of Keap1 (PDB code 4L7B). The cell-based assays and molecular docking findings revealed that curcumin has the best inhibitory activity against Keap1-4L7B. Co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) results indicated that curcumin is a potent Keap1 Kelch domain-dependent Nrf2 activator that stabilizes Nrf2 by hindering its ubiquitination. The increased activation of Nrf2 and its target antioxidant genes by curcumin could significantly decrease As3+-generated ROS. Moreover, curcumin induced autophagy in As3+-treated BEAS-2B via inducing autophagy by the formation of a p62/LC-3 complex and increasing autophagic flux by promoting transcription factor EB (TFEB) and lysosome-associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP1) expression. Knockdown of Nrf2 abolished curcumin-induced autophagy and downregulated ROS. Further studies showed that inhibition of autophagosome and lysosome fusion with bafilomycin a1 (BafA1) could block curcumin and prevented As3+-induced cell transformation. These results demonstrated that curcumin prevents As3+-induced cell transformation by inducing autophagy via the activation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway in BEAS-2B cells. However, overexpression of Keap-1 showed a constitutively high level of Nrf2 in As3+-transformed BEAS-2B cells (AsT) is Keap1-independent regulation. Overexpression of Nrf2 in AsT demonstrated that curcumin increased ROS levels and induced cell apoptosis via the downregulation of Nrf2. Further studies showed that curcumin decreased the Nrf2 level in AsT by activating GSK-3β to inhibit the activation of PI3K/AKT. Co-IP assay results showed that curcumin promoted the interaction of Nrf2 with the GSK-3β/β-TrCP axis and ubiquitin. Moreover, the inhibition of GSK-3β reversed Nrf2 expression in curcumin-treated AsT, indicating that the decrease in Nrf2 is due to activation of the GSK-3β/β-TrCP ubiquitination pathway. Furthermore, in vitro and in vivo results showed that curcumin induced cell apoptosis, and had anti-angiogenesis and anti-tumorigenesis effects as a result of activating the GSK-3β/β-TrCP ubiquitination pathway and subsequent decrease in Nrf2.

CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, in the first stage, curcumin activated Nrf2, decreased ROS, and induced autophagy in normal cells to prevent As3+-induced cell transformation. In the second stage, curcumin promoted ROS and apoptosis and inhibited angiogenesis via inhibition of constitutive expression of Nrf2 in AsT to prevent tumorigenesis. Our results suggest that antioxidant natural compounds such as curcumin can be evaluated as potential candidates for complementary therapies in the treatment of As3+-induced carcinogenesis.

PMID:34758851 | DOI:10.1186/s13020-021-00527-x

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