Topical application of curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric and curry, strongly inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced ornithine decarboxylase activity, DNA synthesis, and tumor promotion in mouse skin (Huang et al., Cancer Res., 48: 5941–5946, 1988). Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid (structurally related dietary compounds) were considerably less active. In the present study, topical application of curcumin markedly inhibited TPA- and arachidonic acid-induced epidermal inflammation (ear edema) in mice, but chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid were only weakly active or inactive. The in vitro addition of 3, 10, 30, or 100 µm curcumin to cytosol from homogenates of mouse epidermis inhibited the metabolism of arachidonic acid to 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (5-HETE) by 40, 60, 66, or 83%, respectively, and the metabolism of arachidonic acid to 8-HETE was inhibited by 40, 51, 77, or 85%, respectively [IC50 (concentration needed for 50% inhibition) = 5–10 µm]. Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, or ferulic acid (100 µm) inhibited the metabolism of arachidonic acid to 5-HETE by 36, 10, or 16%, respectively, and these hydroxylated cinnamic acid derivatives inhibited the metabolism of arachidonic acid to 8-HETE by 37, 20, or 10%, respectively (IC50 > 100 µm). The metabolism of arachidonic acid to prostaglandin E2, prostaglandin F2α, and prostaglandin D2 by epidermal microsomes was inhibited approximately 50% by the in vitro addition of 5–10 µm curcumin. Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid (100 µm) were inactive. In vitro rat brain protein kinase C activity was not affected by 50–200 µm curcumin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, or ferulic acid. The inhibitory effects of curcumin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid on TPA-induced tumor promotion in mouse epidermis parallel their inhibitory effects on TPA-induced epidermal inflammation and epidermal lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase activities.
This work was supported in part by Outstanding Investigator Grant CA 49756 from the National Cancer Institute.