Tumor-induced oxidative stress perturbs nuclear factor-kappaB activity-augmenting tumor necrosis factor-alpha-mediated T-cell death: protection by curcumin.Cancer Res. 2007 Jan 01; 67(1):362-70.CR
Cancer patients often exhibit loss of proper cell-mediated immunity and reduced effector T-cell population in the circulation. Thymus is a major site of T-cell maturation, and tumors induce thymic atrophy to evade cellular immune response. Here, we report severe thymic hypocellularity along with decreased thymic integrity in tumor bearer. In an effort to delineate the mechanisms behind such thymic atrophy, we observed that tumor-induced oxidative stress played a critical role, as it perturbed nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activity. Tumor-induced oxidative stress increased cytosolic IkappaBalpha retention and inhibited NF-kappaB nuclear translocation in thymic T cells. These NF-kappaB-perturbed cells became vulnerable to tumor-secreted tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha (TNF-alpha)-mediated apoptosis through the activation of TNF receptor-associated protein death domain-associated Fas-associated protein death domain and caspase-8. Interestingly, TNF-alpha-depleted tumor supernatants, either by antibody neutralization or by TNF-alpha-small interfering RNA transfection of tumor cells, were unable to kill T cell effectively. When T cells were overexpressed with NF-kappaB, the cells became resistant to tumor-induced apoptosis. In contrast, when degradation-defective IkappaBalpha (IkappaBalpha super-repressor) was introduced into T cells, the cells became more vulnerable, indicating that inhibition of NF-kappaB is the reason behind such tumor/TNF-alpha-mediated apoptosis. Curcumin could prevent tumor-induced thymic atrophy by restoring the activity of NF-kappaB. Further investigations suggest that neutralization of tumor-induced oxidative stress and restoration of NF-kappaB activity along with the reeducation of the TNF-alpha signaling pathway can be the mechanism behind curcumin-mediated thymic protection. Thus, our results suggest that unlike many other anticancer agents, curcumin is not only devoid of immunosuppressive effects but also acts as immunorestorer in tumor-bearing host.