"Spicing Up" of the Immune System by Curcumin

J Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;27(1):19-35. doi: 10.1007/s10875-006-9066-7. Epub 2007 Jan 9.

Abstract

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is an orange-yellow component of turmeric (Curcuma longa), a spice often found in curry powder. Traditionally known for its an antiinflammatory effects, curcumin has been shown in the last two decades to be a potent immunomodulatory agent that can modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Curcumin can also downregulate the expression of various proinflammatory cytokines including TNF, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and chemokines, most likely through inactivation of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Interestingly, however, curcumin at low doses can also enhance antibody responses. This suggests that curcumin's reported beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer might be due in part to its ability to modulate the immune system. Together, these findings warrant further consideration of curcumin as a therapy for immune disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Curcuma / chemistry
  • Curcuma / immunology*
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Cytokines / drug effects*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Proteins / drug effects*
  • I-kappa B Proteins / metabolism
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Molecular Structure
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Spices

Substances

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • I-kappa B Proteins
  • Immunologic Factors
  • NF-kappa B
  • Curcumin