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LE Magazine September 2001


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Curcumin protects against 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal-induced cataract formation in rat lenses.

Age-related cataractogenesis is a significant health problem worldwide. Oxidative stress has been suggested to be a common underlying mechanism of cataractogenesis, and augmentation of the antioxidant defenses of the ocular lens has been shown to prevent or delay cataractogenesis. The present studies were designed to test the efficacy of curcumin, an antioxidant present in the commonly used spice turmeric, in preventing cataractogenesis in an in vitro rat model. Rats were maintained on an AIN-76 diet (ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc, Cleveland) for 2 wk, after which they were given a daily dose of corn oil alone or 75 mg curcumin/kg in corn oil for 14 d. Their lenses were removed and cultured for 72 h in vitro in the presence or absence of 100 mumol 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE)/L, a highly electrophilic product of lipid peroxidation. The results of these studies showed that 4-HNE caused opacifications of cultured lenses as indicated by the measurements of transmitted light intensity using digital image analysis. However, the lenses from curcumin-treated rats were much more resistant to 4-HNE-induced opacification than were lenses from control animals. Curcumin treatment caused a significant induction of the glutathione S-transferase (GST) isozyme rGST8-8 in rat lens epithelium. Because rGST8-8 utilizes 4-HNE as a preferred substrate, we suggest that the protective effect of curcumin may be mediated through the induction of this GST isozyme. These studies suggest that curcumin may be an effective protective agent against cataractogenesis induced by lipid peroxidation.

Am J Clin Nutr 1996 Nov;64(5):761-6

Efficacy of curcumin in the management of chronic anterior uveitis.

Curcumin, obtained from rhizomes of Curcuma longa, was administered orally to patients suffering from chronic anterior uveitis (CAU) at a dose of 375 mg three times a day for 12 weeks. Of 53 patients enrolled, 32 completed the 12-week study. They were divided into two groups: one group of 18 patients received curcumin alone, whereas the other group of 14 patients, who had a strong PPD reaction, in addition received antitubercular treatment. The patients in both the groups started improving after 2 weeks of treatment. All the patients who received curcumin alone improved, whereas the group receiving antitubercular therapy along with curcumin had a response rate of 86%. Follow up of all the patients for the next 3 years indicated a recurrence rate of 55% in the first group and of 36% in the second group. Four of 18 (22%) patients in the first group and 3 of 14 patients (21%) in the second group lost their vision in the follow up period due to various complications in the eyes, e.g. vitritis, macular oedema, central venous block, cataract formation, glaucomatous optic nerve damage etc. None of the patients reported any side effect of the drug. The efficacy of curcumin and recurrences following treatment are comparable to corticosteroid therapy which is presently the only available standard treatment for this disease. The lack of side effects with curcumin is its greatest advantage compared with corticosteroids. A double blind multi-centric clinical trial with this drug in CAU is highly desirable to further validate the results of the present study.

Phytother Res 1999 Jun;13(4):318-22

Dietary curcumin prevents ocular toxicity of naphthalene in rats.

Administration of naphthalene is known to cause cataract formation in rats and rabbits and naphthalene-initiated cataract is frequently used as a model for studies on senile cataract in humans. Oxidative stress has been implicated in the mechanism of naphthalene-induced cataract. Curcumin, a constituent of turmeric, a spice used in Indian curry dishes, is an effective antioxidant and is known to induce the enzymes of glutathione-linked detoxification pathways in rats. During the present studies, we have examined whether low levels of dietary curcumin could prevent naphthalene-induced opacification of rat lens. The presence of apoptotic cells in lens epithelial cells was also examined by catalytically incorporating labeled nucleotide to DNA with either Klenow fragment of DNA polymerase or by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), which forms polymeric tail using the principle of TUNEL assay. The results of these studies demonstrated that the rats treated with naphthalene and kept on a diet supplemented with only 0.005% (w/w) curcumin had significantly less opacification of lenses as compared to that observed in rats treated only with naphthalene. Our studies also demonstrate, for the first time, that naphthalene-initiated cataract in lens is accompanied and perhaps preceded by apoptosis of lens epithelial cells and that curcumin attenuates this apoptotic effect of naphthalene.

Toxicol Lett 2000 Jun 5;115(3):195-204

Enhancement of wound healing by curcumin in animals.

Tissue repair and wound healing are complex processes that involve inflammation, granulation, and remodeling of the tissue. In this study, we evaluated the in vivo effects of curcumin (difeurloylmethane), a natural product obtained from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa on wound healing in rats and guinea pigs. We observed faster wound closure of punch wounds in curcumin-treated animals in comparison with untreated controls. Biopsies of the wound showed reepithelialization of the epidermis and increased migration of various cells including myofibroblasts, fibroblasts, and macrophages in the wound bed. Multiple areas within the dermis showed extensive neovascularization, and Masson’s Trichrome staining showed greater collagen deposition in curcumin-treated wounds. Immunohistochemical localization of transforming growth factor-beta1 showed an increase in curcumin-treated wounds as compared with untreated wounds. In situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction analysis also showed an increase in the mRNA transcripts of transforming growth factor-beta1 and fibronectin in curcumin-treated wounds. Because transforming growth factor-beta1 is known to enhance wound healing, it may be possible that transforming growth factor-beta1 plays an important role in the enhancement of wound healing by curcumin.

Wound Repair Regen 1998 Mar-Apr;6(2):167-77

Curcumin enhances wound healing in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats and genetically diabetic mice.

Tissue repair and wound healing are complex processes that involve inflammation, granulation and tissue remodeling. Interactions of different cells, extra cellular matrix proteins and their receptors are involved in wound healing, and are mediated by cytokines and growth factors. Previous studies from our laboratory have shown that curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a natural product obtained from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, enhanced cutaneous wound healing in rats and guinea pigs. In this study, we have evaluated the efficacy of curcumin treatment by oral and topical applications on impaired wound healing in diabetic rats and genetically diabetic mice using a full thickness cutaneous punch wound model. Wounds of animals treated with curcumin showed earlier re-epithelialization, improved neovascularization, increased migration of various cells including dermal myofibroblasts, fibroblasts, and macrophages into the wound bed, and a higher collagen content. Immunohistochemical localization showed an increase in transforming growth factor-beta1 in curcumin-treated wounds compared to controls. Enhanced transforming growth factor-beta1 mRNA expression in treated wounds was confirmed by in situ hybridization, and laser scan cytometry. A delay in the apoptosis patterns was seen in diabetic wounds compared to curcumin treated wounds as shown by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridyl triphosphate nick end labeling analysis. Curcumin was effective both orally and topically. These results show that curcumin enhanced wound repair in diabetic impaired healing, and could be developed as a pharmacological agent in such clinical settings.

Wound Repair Regen 1999 Sep-Oct;7(5):362-74

Systemic administration of the NF-kappaB inhibitor curcumin stimulates muscle regeneration after traumatic injury.

Skeletal muscle is often the site of tissue injury due to trauma, disease, developmental defects or surgery. Yet, to date, no effective treatment is available to stimulate the repair of skeletal muscle. We show that the kinetics and extent of muscle regeneration in vivo after trauma are greatly enhanced following systemic administration of curcumin, a pharmacological inhibitor of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Biochemical and histological analyses indicate an effect of curcumin after only 4 days of daily intraperitoneal injection compared with controls that require >2 wk to restore normal tissue architecture. Curcumin can act directly on cultured muscle precursor cells to stimulate both cell proliferation and differentiation under appropriate conditions. Other pharmacological and genetic inhibitors of NF-kappaB also stimulate muscle differentiation in vitro. Inhibition of NF-kappaB-mediated transcription was confirmed using reporter gene assays. We conclude that NF-kappaB exerts a role in regulating myogenesis and that modulation of NF-kappaB activity within muscle tissue is beneficial for muscle repair. The striking effects of curcumin on myogenesis suggest therapeutic applications for treating muscle injuries.

Am J Physiol 1999 Aug;277(2 Pt 1):C320-9

Inhibition of ligand-induced activation of epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine phosphorylation by curcumin.

We explored the regulation of epidermal growth factor (EGF)-mediated activation of EGF receptor (EGF-R) phosphorylation by curcumin (diferuloyl-methane), a recently identified kinase inhibitor, in cultured NIH 3T3 cells expressing human EGF-R. Treatment of cells with a saturating concentration of EGF for 5-15 min induced increased EGF-R tyrosine phosphorylation by 4- to 11-fold and this was inhibited in a dose- and time-dependent manner by up to 90% by curcumin, which also inhibited the growth of EGF-stimulated cells. There was no effect of curcumin treatment on the amount of surface expression of labeled EGF-R and inhibition of EGF-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation of EGF-R by curcumin was mediated by a reversible mechanism. In addition, curcumin also inhibited EGF-induced, but not bradykinin-induced, calcium release. These findings demonstrate that curcumin is a potent inhibitor of a growth stimulatory pathway, the ligand-induced activation of EGF-R, and may potentially be useful in developing anti-proliferative strategies to control tumor cell growth.

Carcinogenesis 1995 Aug;16(8):1741-5

Curcumin induces a p53-dependent apoptosis in human basal cell carcinoma cells.

Curcumin, a potent antioxidant and chemopreventive agent, has recently been found to be capable of inducing apoptosis in human hepatoma and leukemia cells by way of an elusive mechanism. Here, we demonstrate that curcumin also induces apoptosis in human basal cell carcinoma cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner, as evidenced by internucleosomal DNA fragmentation and morphologic change. In our study, consistent with the occurrence of DNA fragmentation, nuclear p53 protein initially increased at 12 h and peaked at 48 h after curcumin treatment. Prior treatment of cells with cycloheximide or actinomycin D abolished the p53 increase and apoptosis induced by curcumin, suggesting that either de novo p53 protein synthesis or some proteins synthesis for stabilization of p53 is required for apoptosis. In electrophoretic mobility gel-shift assays, nuclear extracts of cells treated with curcumin displayed distinct patterns of binding between p53 and its consensus binding site. Supportive of these findings, p53 downstream targets, including p21(CIP1/WAF1) and Gadd45, could be induced to localize on the nucleus by curcumin with similar p53 kinetics. Moreover, we immunoprecipitated extracts from basal cell carcinoma cells with different anti-p53 antibodies, which are known to be specific for wild-type or mutant p53 protein. The results reveal that basal cell carcinoma cells contain exclusively wild-type p53; however, curcumin treatment did not interfere with cell cycling. Similarly, the apoptosis suppressor Bcl-2 and promoter Bax were not changed with the curcumin treatment. Finally, treatment of cells with p53 antisense oligonucleotide could effectively prevent curcumin-induced intracellular p53 protein increase and apoptosis, but sense p53 oligonucleotide could not. Thus, our data suggest that the p53-associated signaling pathway is critically involved in curcumin-mediated apoptotic cell death. This evidence also suggests that curcumin may be a potent agent for skin cancer prevention or therapy.

J Invest Dermatol 1998 Oct;111(4):656-61

Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers.

The medicinal properties of curcumin obtained from Curcuma longa L. cannot be utilised because of poor bioavailability due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal wall. In this study, the effect of combining piperine, a known inhibitor of hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation, was evaluated on the bioavailability of curcumin in rats and healthy human volunteers. When curcumin was given alone, in the dose 2 g/kg to rats, moderate serum concentrations were achieved over a period of 4 h. Concomitant administration of piperine 20 mg/kg increased the serum concentration of curcumin for a short period of 1-2 h post drug. Time to maximum was significantly increased (P < 0.02) while elimination half life and clearance significantly decreased (P a 0.02), and the bioavailability was increased by 154%. On the other hand in humans after a dose of 2 g curcumin alone, serum levels were either undetectable or very low. Concomitant administration of piperine 20 mg produced much higher concentrations from 0.25 to 1 h post drug (P < 0.01 at 0.25 and 0.5 h; P < 0.001 at 1 h), the increase in bioavailability was 2000%. The study shows that in the dosages used, piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin in both rats and humans with no adverse effects.

Planta Med 1998 May;64(4):353-6

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