Background and purpose: Curcumin, the natural yellow pigment extracted from the rhizomes of the plant curcuma longa, has been demonstrated to exhibit a variety of potent beneficial effects, acting as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic. In this study we tested the hypothesis that curcumin attenuates maladaptive cardiac repair and improves cardiac function after ischaemia and reperfusion by reducing degradation of extracellular matrix (ECM) and inhibiting synthesis of collagens via TGFβ/Smad-mediated signalling pathway.
Experimental approach: Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to 45 min of ischaemia followed by 7, 21 and 42 days of reperfusion respectively. Curcumin was fed orally at a dose of 150 mg·kg(-1) ·day(-1) only during reperfusion.
Key results: Curcumin reduced the level of malondialdehyde, inhibited activity of MMPs, preserved ECM from degradation and attenuated collagen deposition, as it reduced the extent of collagen-rich scar and increased mass of viable myocardium. In addition to reducing collagen synthesis and fibrosis in the ischaemic/reperfused myocardium, curcumin significantly down-regulated the expression of TGFβ1 and phospho-Smad2/3, and up-regulated Smad7 and also increased the population of α-smooth muscle actin expressing myofibroblasts within the infarcted myocardium relative to the control. Echocardiography showed it significantly improved left ventricular end-diastolic volume, stroke volume and ejection fraction. The wall thickness of the infarcted middle anterior septum in the curcumin group was also greater than that in the control group.
Conclusion and implications: Dietary curcumin is effective at inhibiting maladaptive cardiac repair and preserving cardiac function after ischaemia and reperfusion. Curcumin has potential as a treatment for patients who have had a heart attack.
© 2012 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2012 The British Pharmacological Society.