Curcumin and Angiogenesis

Again, happy holidays to everyone! I have been busy busy busy, not with research but with family and holiday-related engagements. But I did have time this morning to take a quick look at a study dealing with curcumin and angiogenesis, and will attempt to present some of its findings. Quickly, since I have some folks downstairs waiting for me to join them for a card game, hehe!

A blog reader (thank you!) recently sent me the link to an article (see: about a study (see abstract:  published in the October 24 2007 issue of the “Journal of Cellular Physiology.” The study is titled “Opposing effects of curcuminoids on serum stimulated and unstimulated angiogenic response.” In a nutshell, a group of researchers from the University of Kerala, India, discovered that curcumin promotes the formation of blood vessels in HEALTHY cells. This may not sound so amazing, but it really IS, when you think about it, because their finding confirms the fact that curcumin has the ability to distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells. Curcumin provides a supply of blood to normal cells whenever they need it but cuts off that same supply to nasty cancer cells. This may appear to be contradictory, but the Kerala researchers, as we will see, may have found an explanation. And their finding may be important not only for the treatment of cancer but also of ischemic conditions where there is a shortage in blood supply and, consequently, of oxygen.

The Kerala study (the full text was sent to me by another blog reader, thanks!) begins with an explanation of angiogenesis, which “is the formation of new blood vessels from preexisting vessels. […] Physiologically, it plays an important role in wound healing and ovulation. Nevertheless, uncontrolled angiogenesis results in many pathological conditions.” Indeed!

Curcumin applied to wounds caused by radiation has strong healing properties. An interesting aside: while I was doing research for this part of the post, I came upon a 2007 study (  showing that curcumin has both radioprotective AND radiosensitizing properties. How about THAT? So curcumin will protect our healthy cells from the harmful effects of radiation while enhancing the murderous effects of radiation on cancer cells. At the exact same time! Extraordinary. That is why it might be very useful in the radiotherapy treatment of cancer, the study suggests. Well, I already knew about the radioprotective effects of curcumin, and now in fact I am not at all nervous about having my annual skeletal exam, but not the radiosensitizing effects. Curcumin never ceases to amaze me!

A 1999 study (see abstract: showed that curcumin both when taken orally and applied topically improved wound healing in diabetic rats and mice.

The above-mentioned Kerala researchers point out that it seemed contradictory for curcumin to have wound healing properties when it is also has these anti-angiogenic properties. So they focused on the cellular microenvironment to see if it had “any effect on the angiogenic potential of curcuminoids.” Well, it does. This was a difficult, very technical study for me to read (the abstract will give you an idea…), but the following is more or less clear: curcuminoids stimulated the expression of proangiogenic factors when there was no extracellular stimulation (of an angiogenic response) by serum or proangiogenic growth factors, whereas, in the presence of those stimuli, curcuminoids appeared to be anti-angiogenic. Okay, perhaps this is not clear at all, now that I reread it! Well, basically, depending on the presence or absence of serum or certain growth factors, curcuminoids help normal cells live happily ever after, but they can also kill cancer cells by cutting off their blood supply.

This study gives us another example of the wonderful dual nature of curcumin, able to distinguish between the good and the bad guys. Yeah!


  1. Just a thank you Margaret, for your continued positive attitude and enthusiasm for life and curcumin. I am taking biocurcumax and am hoping it makes a difference. All good things to you, Stefano, and your cats in 2008!

  2. Hi Margaret,

    how do you find the time to read and digest all these studies, I get so far and either lose the thread or get to tired to continue. God bless you and your family in the coming year. You really are an inspiration.


  3. Hi Margaret,

    inspired to do a bit of late night research on melatonin (to take or not to take) found this, thought you may be interested, don’t know if you have come across this site before, but it is following very similar line to us, that nutrition is all important!! Anne was diagnosed with Myeloma in 1999, in 2006 her blood test showed no sign of myeloma. Her protacol is listed and turmeric and melatonin are amongst the supplements taken. Food for thought!!


  4. Thank you both (and everyone else!). You, my blog readers, are very important to me since a lot of my research comes from links and pointers that you send to me. For instance, I might not have thought of combining cocoa mass with curcumin if it hadn’t been for a blog reader’s suggestion. So…THANK YOU!
    As for finding the time to read and digest these studies, I admit it isn’t always easy. Some of them are practically incomprehensible to anyone who isn’t in the field. When in doubt, though, one trick is to skip to the Discussion part, which (sometimes!) brings the study together.
    Sue, thanks for the link. I just went to the website, and in fact I remembered that I wrote Charles an e-mail some time ago. I haven’t received a response from him yet so he may not have received it. Yes, an interesting story, for sure. And, you are right, melatonin is on her list of supplements. Hmmm…food for thought.
    Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, everyone, and an even better NEW YEAR! With reference to the DMAPT clinical trial, I personally hope that 2008 will be the year in which leukemic and myelomic stem cells get annihilated! Yeah!

  5. I only have one kidney and had lots of infections before taking curcumin- This might explain why my kidney function appears to haave improved- As long as I’m taking curcumin I don’t have the infections I had before-Hmmmm.

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