Immunomodulation by curcumin

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007:595:321-41. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5_14.


Turmeric, the bright yellow spice extracted from the tuberous rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa, has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese systems of medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including jaundice and hepatic disorders, rheumatism, anorexia, diabetic wounds, and menstrual difficulties. Most of the medicinal effects of turmeric have been attributed to curcumin, the principal curcumanoid found in turmeric. Recent evidence that curcumin exhibits strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities and modulates the expression of transcription factors, cell cycle proteins, and signal transducing kinases has prompted the mechanism-based studies on the potential of curcumin to primarily prevent and treat cancer and inflammatory diseases. Little work has been done to study the effect of curcumin on the development of immune responses. This review discusses current knowledge on the immunomodulatory effects of curcumin on various facets of the immune response, including its effect on lymphoid cell populations, antigen presentation, humoral and cell-mediated immunity, and cytokine production.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cytokines
  • NF-kappa B
  • Curcumin