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  • Author: Elba N Pereyra x
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Curcumin effects on Leydig cell functions and potential therapeutic uses

Trinidad Raices, María Luisa Varela, Adriana María Belén Abiuso, Elba N Pereyra, Carolina Mondillo, Omar P Pignataro, and María Fernanda Riera

Curcumin has been ascribed with countless therapeutic effects, but its impact on testicular function has been scarcely researched. Leydig cells comprise the androgen-secreting population of the testis and may give rise to Leydig cell tumours (LCTs). Due to their steroid-secreting nature, LCTs entail endocrine, reproductive, and psychological disorders. Approximately 10% are malignant and do not respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The aim of this study was to assess curcumin’s impact on Leydig cells’ functions and its potential effect on LCT growth. In vitro assays on MA-10 Leydig cells showed that curcumin (20–80 µmol/L) stimulates acute steroidogenesis, both in the presence and absence of db-cAMP. This effect is accompanied by an increase in StAR expression. Regarding curcumin’s in vitro cytostatic capacity, we show that 40–80 µmol/L curcumin reduces MA-10 Leydig cells’ proliferative capacity, which could be explained by the arrest in G2/M and the reduced viability due to the activation of the apoptotic pathway. Finally, CB6F1 mice were inoculated with MA-10 cells to generate ectopic LCT in both flanks. They received i.p. injections of 20 mg/kg curcumin or vehicle every other day for 15 days. We unveiled curcumin’s capacity to inhibit LCT growth as evidenced by reduced tumour volume, weight, and area under the growth curves. No detrimental effects on general health parameters or testicular integrity were observed. These results provide novel evidence of curcumin’s effects on the endocrine cell population of the testis and propose this natural compound as a therapeutic agent for LCT.