Hazardous effects of curcumin on mouse embryonic development through a mitochondria-dependent apoptotic signaling pathway

Chia Chi Chen, Ming Shu Hsieh, Yan Der Hsuuw, Fu Jen Huang*, Wen Hsiung Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

41 Scopus citations


In this study, we examined the cytotoxic effects of curcumin, the yellow pigment of Curcuma longa, on the blastocyst stage of mouse embryos, subsequent embryonic attachment, and outgrowth in vitro and in vivo implantation by embryo transfer. Mouse blastocysts were incubated in medium with or without curcumin (6, 12 or 24 μM) for 24 h. Cell proliferation and growth were investigated using dual differential staining, apoptosis was analyzed with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL), and implantation and post-implantation development of embryos were measured by in vitro development analysis and in vivo embryo transfer, respectively. Blastocysts treated with 24 μM curcumin displayed significantly increased apoptosis and decreased total cell number. Interestingly, we observed no marked differences in the implantation success rates between curcumin-pretreated and control blastocysts during in vitro embryonic development through implantation with a fibronectin-coated culture dish. However, in vitro treatment with 24 μM curcumin was associated with decreased implantation rate and increased resorption of postimplantation embryos in mouse uterus, as well as decreased fetal weight in the embryo transfer assay. Our results collectively indicate that in vitro exposure to curcumin triggers apoptosis and retards early postimplantation development after transfer to host mice. In addition, curcumin induces apoptotic injury effects on mouse blastocysts through ROS generation, and further promotes mitochondria-dependent apoptotic signaling processes to impair sequent embryonic development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2839-2855
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - 08 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Blastocyst
  • Curcumin
  • Development
  • ROS


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