Urine and serum analysis of consumed curcuminoids using an IkappaB-luciferase surrogate marker assay

In Vivo. Nov-Dec 2010;24(6):861-4.


Background: curcumin metabolites are detectable in body fluids such as serum and urine. We have developed a novel assay that can detect metabolites in such body fluids by measuring their effect on the nuclear factor kappa B/inhibitor of kappa B (NF-κB/IκB) pathway.

Patients and methods: fifteen healthy individuals were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to two groups: control group (five) and curcumin group (ten). The test group ingested 8 g of the curcuminoids (C(3)-Complex) with 16 oz of bottled water. Blood and urine were collected at 0, 4, 8, and 24 h after ingestion. Degradation of the NF-κB/IκB complex was detected by the Genetic Expression and Measurement (GEM) assay using HCT116 cells stably transfected with PGL3-IκB firefly luciferase.

Results: using our novel GEM assay, the five controls who had not taken curcumin were identified.

Conclusion: the GEM assay is a very sensitive and accurate non-invasive assay that could be utilized to detect metabolites in body fluids. It could also serve as a tool to determine participants' compliance during clinical research studies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Curcumin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Proteins / metabolism*
  • Luciferases, Firefly / genetics
  • Male
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • I-kappa B Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Luciferases, Firefly
  • Curcumin