Curcumin inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators and metalloproteinase-3 production by chondrocytes

Inflamm Res. 2009 Dec;58(12):899-908. doi: 10.1007/s00011-009-0063-1. Epub 2009 Jul 5.


Objective and design: This study aims to investigate the effects of curcumin (Cur) on the extracellular matrix protein metabolism of articular chondrocytes and on their production of inflammatory mediators.

Methods: Human chondrocytes in alginate beads and human cartilage explants were cultured in the absence or in the presence of interleukin (IL)-1beta (10(-11) M) and with or without Cur (5-20 microM). Nitric oxide (NO) synthesis was measured by the Griess spectrophotometric method; prostaglandin (PG) E(2) by a specific radioimmunoassay; and IL-6, IL-8, aggrecan (Agg), matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1 by specific enzyme-amplified immunoassays. Proteoglycan degradation was evaluated by the release of (35)S-glycosaminoglycans (GAG) from human cartilage explants.

Results: In alginate beads and cartilage explant models, Cur inhibited the basal and the IL-1beta-stimulated NO, PGE(2), IL-6, IL-8, and MMP-3 production by human chondrocytes in a concentration-dependent manner. The TIMP-1 and the Agg productions were not modified. In the basal condition, (35)S-GAG release from cartilage explants was decreased by Cur.

Conclusions: Curcumin was a potent inhibitor of the production of inflammatory and catabolic mediators by chondrocytes, suggesting that this natural compound could be efficient in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal* / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal* / pharmacology
  • Cartilage, Articular / cytology
  • Cartilage, Articular / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / cytology
  • Chondrocytes / drug effects*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism*
  • Curcumin* / metabolism
  • Curcumin* / pharmacology
  • Dinoprostone / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology*
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Interleukin-8 / immunology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Osteoarthritis / immunology
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3
  • Curcumin
  • Dinoprostone