Negative effects of curcumin on liver injury induced by alcohol

Phytother Res. 2012 Dec;26(12):1857-63. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4664. Epub 2012 Mar 16.


Curcumin is known for its antiinflammatory and antifibrotic properties in liver damage. However, the negative effects of curcumin on alcoholic liver damage are seldom reported. In this study, both advantageous and disadvantageous functions of curcumin on alcoholic liver injury were observed. In order to determine the effects of curcumin on liver fibrosis induced by alcohol, 5% ethanol and/or curcumin (1 × 10(-3) or 1 × 10(-4) m) were injected intravenously in mice. Hematoxylin-eosin staining was performed to determine the value of liver injury by optical density analyses. Liver histology was evaluated by an experienced hepatopathologist blinded to the type of treatment received by the animals. Ethanol accelerates serum levels of serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), liver injury, production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) during 5% ethanol-induced liver injury. 1 × 10(-3) m curcumin accelerates liver injury and liver cellular edema during only 5% ethanol-induced liver injury evolution, whereas 1 × 10(-4) m curcumin does not lead to (or protect) alcoholic liver injury. Therefore, it is suggested that curcumin may have dual effects on alcoholic liver injury depending on its concentration.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ethanol / toxicity
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • NF-kappa B
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Ethanol
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Curcumin