Potentiation of TRAIL-Induced Apoptosis in TRAIL-Resistant Cholangiocarcinoma Cells by Curcumin through the Induction of DR5 Membrane Localization and Disruption of the Anti-Apoptotic Complex DR5/DDX3/GSK3β

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Laboratory of Pharmacology, Chulabhorn Research Institute, Thailand.

2 Translational Research Unit, Chulabhorn Research Institute, Bangkok, Thailand.

3 Center of Excellence on Environmental Health and Toxicology (EHT), OPS, MHESI, Thailand.


Objective: Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a cancer of the bile duct with a poor prognosis. The present study examined the ability of curcumin to sensitize apoptosis in the TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-resistant CCA cell lines of HuCCA-1 and KKU-213A. Methods: Apoptosis was measured using a TUNEL assay. Protein expression was determined by immunoblotting. Membrane death receptor 5 (DR5) was detected by flow cytometry. Protein complex was examined by co-immunoprecipitation. Result: Curcumin potentiated TRAIL-induced apoptosis in both cell lines, indicating the sensitization to TRAIL-induced apoptosis by curcumin. Additionally, curcumin increased DR5 expression and membrane localization; however, the curcumin/TRAIL combination did not result in further increases in DR5 expression and membrane localization in either cell line. Moreover, the curcumin/TRAIL combination reduced DR5/decoy receptor 2 (DcR2) complexes in both cell lines, suggesting that curcumin may enhance TRAIL-induced apoptosis by disrupting DR5/DcR2 interaction. In addition, levels of the anti-apoptotic complex DR5/ DDX3/GSK3β were reduced by the curcumin/TRAIL combination in HuCCA-1 but not in KKU-213A cells. This study also demonstrated that the DR5/DcR2 and DR5/DDX3/GSK3β complexes could be observed under basal conditions, suggesting that these anti-apoptotic complexes may contribute to TRAIL-resistant phenotypes in both cell lines. Pretreatment with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine attenuated curcumin-enhanced apoptosis by TRAIL, indicating that curcumin sensitized TRAIL-induced apoptosis through an oxidative stress–dependent mechanism. Conclusion: The present study demonstrates the potential of using curcumin in combination with TRAIL to yield better TRAIL therapy outcomes in TRAIL-resistant CCA.


Main Subjects