Curcumin enhances the cytotoxic and chemo-sensitising effects of lenalidomide in human multiple myeloma cells.

J Hematol Malig 2013; 3(2):1-7


Only 80% of patients with myeloma respond to cytotoxic drugs and immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs)-based therapy, which includes drugs like thalidomide, lenalidomide, bortezomib and pomalidomide.

Curcumin has been known to display a wide range of biological activities, including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytotoxicity to numerous cancer cell types.



To investigate the cytotoxic and chemo-sensitising effects of Curcumin alone and in combination with lenalidomide on the human myeloma cell line H929.


Study Design:

The human myeloma cell line H929 was treated with Curcumin and/or lenalidomide were cultured for 3 days before they were analysed for apoptosis. RT-PCR was done to examine the effects on certain gene expressions.



  • A dose-dependent increase in cell death was observed when H929 cells were incubated with Curcumin or lenalidomide
  • Combination of Curcumin (30 µM) and lenalidomide (2.5 mM) resulted in higher apoptosis compared to either Curcumin or lenalidomide alone
  • Similarly, the combination suppressed cereblon gene (CRBN) mRNA expression significantly (7.7-fold)
  • Multidrug resistance (MDR) genes expression was reduced post treatment with lenalidomide (2-fold), with Curcumin (4-fold), whereas combination showed 3-fold reduction



Curcumin produced a cytotoxic effect additive to that of lenalidomide on H929 myeloma cells as well as enhanced the chemo-sensitizing effects of this agent.

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