Curcumin reduces prostaglandin E2, matrix metalloproteinase-3 and proteoglycan release in the secretome of interleukin 1β-treated articular cartilage

F1000Res. 2013 Jul 4:2:147. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-147.v2. eCollection 2013.


Objective: Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a phytochemical with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and has therapeutic potential for the treatment of a range of inflammatory diseases, including osteoarthritis (OA). The aim of this study was to determine whether non-toxic concentrations of curcumin can reduce interleukin-1beta (IL-1β)-stimulated inflammation and catabolism in an explant model of cartilage inflammation.

Methods: Articular cartilage explants and primary chondrocytes were obtained from equine metacarpophalangeal joints. Curcumin was added to monolayer cultured primary chondrocytes and cartilage explants in concentrations ranging from 3μM-100μM. Prostaglandin E 2 (PGE 2) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 release into the secretome of IL-1β-stimulated explants was measured using a competitive ELISA and western blotting respectively. Proteoglycan (PG) release in the secretome was measured using the 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay. Cytotoxicity was assessed with a live/dead assay in monolayer cultures after 24 hours, 48 hours and five days, and in explants after five days.

Results: Curcumin induced chondrocyte death in primary cultures (50μM p<0.001 and 100μM p<0.001) after 24 hours. After 48 hours and five days, curcumin (≥25μM) significantly increased cell death ( p<0.001 both time points). In explants, curcumin toxicity was not observed at concentrations up to and including 25μM after five days. Curcumin (≥3μM) significantly reduced IL-1β-stimulated PG ( p<0.05) and PGE 2 release ( p<0.001) from explants, whilst curcumin (≥12μM) significantly reduced MMP-3 release ( p<0.01).

Conclusion: Non-cytotoxic concentrations of curcumin exert anti-catabolic and anti-inflammatory effects in cartilage explants.

Grants and funding

This work received major financial support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council through the Industrial CASE Studentship programme (Grant Number: BBS/S/M/2006/13141) and minor financial support from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition. The BBSRC had no involvement in the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation. The decision to submit the paper for publication was not influenced by the funding bodies.