Curcumin and the cellular stress response in free radical-related diseases

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Sep;52(9):1062-73. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700316.


Free radicals play a main pathogenic role in several human diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, and cancer. Although there has been progress in treatment of these diseases, the development of important side effects may complicate the therapeutic course. Curcumin, a well known spice commonly used in India to make foods colored and flavored, is also used in traditional medicine to treat mild or moderate human diseases. In the recent years, a growing body of literature has unraveled the antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, and antinfectious activity of curcumin based on the ability of this compound to regulate a number of cellular signal transduction pathways. These promising data obtained in vitro are now being translated to the clinic and more than ten clinical trials are currently ongoing worldwide. This review outlines the biological activities of curcumin and discusses its potential use in the prevention and treatment of human diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Free Radicals / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • India
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / deficiency
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / drug effects
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Taste


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Free Radicals
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Curcumin