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Journal of Applied Genetics 48(4), 2007, pp. 389-396

Protective in vivo effect of curcumin on copper genotoxicity evaluated by comet and micronucleus assays

Alfredo Corona-Rivera, Patricia Urbina-Cano, Lucina Bobadilla-Morales, Jose de Jesus Vargas-Lares, Mario Alberto Ramirez-Herrera, Maria Luisa Mendoza-Magaua, Rogelio Troyo-Sanroman, Pedro Diaz-Esquivel, Jorge Roman Corona-Rivera

Abstract: Curcumin is a phytochemical with antiinflammatory, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activities. Apparently, curcumin is not genotoxic in vivo, but in vitro copper and curcumin interactions induce genetic damage. The aim of this study was to test if in vivo copper excess induces DNA damage measured by comet and micronucleus assays in the presence of curcumin. We tested 0.2% curcumin in Balb-C mice at normal (13 ppm) and high (65, 130 and 390 ppm) copper ion concentrations. The comet and micronucleus assays were performed 48 hr after chemical application. Comet tail length in animals treated with 0.2% curcumin was not significantly different from the control. Animals exposed to copper cations (up to 390 ppm) exhibited higher oxidative DNA damage. Curcumin reduced the DNA damage induced by 390 ppm copper. We observed statistically significant increase in damage in individuals exposed to 390 ppm copper versus the control or curcumin groups, which was lowered by the presence of curcumin. Qualitative data on comets evidenced that cells from individuals exposed to 390 ppm copper had longer tails (categories 3 and 4) than in 390 ppm copper + curcumin. A statistically significant increase in frequency of micronucleated erythrocytes (MNE/10000TE) was observed only in 390 ppm copper versus the control and curcumin alone. Also cytotoxicity measured as the frequency of polychromatic erythrocytes (PE/1000TE) was attributable to 390 ppm copper. The lowest cytotoxic effect observed was attributed to curcumin. In vivo exposure to 0.2% curcumin for 48 hr did not cause genomic damage, while 390 ppm copper was genotoxic, but DNA damage induced by 390 ppm copper was diminished by curcumin. Curcumin seems to exert a genoprotective effect against DNA damage induced by high concentrations of copper cations. The comet and micronucleus assays prove to be suitable tools to detect DNA damage by copper in the presence of curcumin.

Key words: comet assay, copper, curcumin, genotoxicity, genoprotection, micronuclei, mouse.

Correspondence: A. Corona-Rivera, Universidad de Guadalajara, Centro Universitario de Ciencias de la Salud, Departamento de Biologia Molecular y Genomica, Instituto de Genetica Humana "Dr. Enrique Corona Rivera", Laboratorio de Citogenetica Genotoxicidad y Biomonitoreo, Edificio P, 2do Nivel, Sierra Mojada # 950, Colonia Independencia, S.L., CP-44340, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico; e- mail:

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