Background: Mechanisms underlying the attenuation of body weight gain and insulin resistance in response to high fat diet (HFD) by the curry compound curcumin need to be further explored. Although the attenuation of the inflammatory pathway is an accepted mechanism, a recent study suggested that curcumin stimulates Wnt signaling pathway and hence suppresses adipogenic differentiation. This is in contrast with the known repressive effect of curcumin on Wnt signaling in other cell lineages.
Methodology and principal findings: We conducted the examination on low fat diet, or HFD fed C57BL/6J mice with or without curcumin intervention for 28 weeks. Curcumin significantly attenuated the effect of HFD on glucose disposal, body weight/fat gain, as well as the development of insulin resistance. No stimulatory effect on Wnt activation was observed in the mature fat tissue. In addition, curcumin did not stimulate Wnt signaling in vitro in primary rat adipocytes. Furthermore, curcumin inhibited lipogenic gene expression in the liver and blocked the effects of HFD on macrophage infiltration and the inflammatory pathway in the adipose tissue.
Conclusions and significance: We conclude that the beneficial effect of curcumin during HFD consumption is mediated by attenuating lipogenic gene expression in the liver and the inflammatory response in the adipose tissue, in the absence of stimulation of Wnt signaling in mature adipocytes.