Preclinical in vitro, in vivo, and pharmacokinetic evaluations of FLLL12 for the prevention and treatment of head and neck cancers

Document Type


Publication Date



Despite its high promise for cancer prevention and therapy, the potential utility of curcumin in cancer is compromised by its low bioavailability and weak potency. The purpose of the current study was to assess the in vitro and in vivo efficacy and pharmacokinetic parameters of the potent curcumin analogue FLLL12 in SCCHN and identify the mechanisms of its antitumor effect. IC50 values against a panel of one premalignant and eight malignant head and neck cancer cell lines as well as apoptosis assay results suggested that FLLL12 is 10- to 24-fold more potent than natural curcumin depending on the cell line and induces mitochondria-mediated apoptosis. In vivo efficacy (xenograft) and pharmacokinetic studies also suggested that FLLL12 is significantly more potent and has more favorable pharmacokinetic properties than curcumin. FLLL12 strongly inhibited the expression of p-EGFR, EGFR, p-AKT, AKT, Bcl-2, and Bid and increased the expression of Bim. Overexpression of constitutively active AKT or Bcl-2 or ablation of Bim or Bid significantly inhibited FLLL12-induced apoptosis. Further mechanistic studies revealed that FLLL12 regulated EGFR and AKT at transcriptional levels, whereas Bcl-2 was regulated at the translational level. Finally, FLLL12 strongly inhibited the AKT downstream targets mTOR and FOXO1a and 3a. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that FLLL12 is a potent curcumin analogue with more favorable pharmacokinetic properties that induces apoptosis of head and neck cancer cell lines by inhibition of survival proteins including EGFR, AKT, and Bcl-2 and increasing of the proapoptotic protein Bim.


Copyright © 2015 American Association for Cancer Research. All rights reserved.