Pharmacological actions of curcumin in liver diseases or damage

Liver Int. 2009 Nov;29(10):1457-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2009.02086.x.


Since 1900 bc, several therapeutic activities have been attributed to the rhizomes of the plant Curcuma longa for a variety of diseases, including liver disorders. Curcumin, the main active compound obtained from this plant, was first isolated two centuries ago and its structure as diferuloylmethane was determined in 1910. Curcumin has shown anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer activities. The pharmacological properties of curcumin were reviewed recently and focused mainly on its anticancer properties. However, its beneficial activity on liver diseases (known centuries ago, and demonstrated recently utilizing animal models) has not being reviewed in depth until now. The curcumin ability to inhibit several factors like nuclear factor-kappaB, which modulates several pro-inflammatory and profibrotic cytokines as well as its anti-oxidant properties, provide a rational molecular basis to use it in hepatic disorders. Curcumin attenuates liver injury induced by ethanol, thioacetamide, iron overdose, cholestasis and acute, subchronic and chronic carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)) intoxication; moreover, it reverses CCl(4) cirrhosis to some extent. Unfortunately, the number of studies of curcumin on liver diseases is still very low and investigations in this area must be encouraged because hepatic disorders constitute one of the main causes of worldwide mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Tetrachloride / toxicity
  • Cholestasis / drug therapy
  • Curcuma
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Iron / toxicity
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver Cirrhosis / chemically induced
  • Liver Cirrhosis / drug therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / drug therapy
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Thioacetamide / toxicity


  • Thioacetamide
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Iron
  • Curcumin