Purpose: To evaluate the effect of curcumin in the acute phase of zymosan-induced arthritis.
Methods: Twenty-eight male rats were subjected to intra-articular infiltration of zymosan of both knees and, in four the infiltration was made with saline. The animals were divided into five groups second received every six hours by gavage: corn oil by (positive and negative control); curcumin (100 mg/kg); prednisone 1 mg/kg/day; prednisone 8 mg/kg. All animals were sacrificed after six, 12, 24 and 48 hours of the infiltration. The knees were removed for evaluation of neutrophil infiltration. The number of neutrophils was counted by computer-assisted analysis of the images. The neutrophil infiltrate was stratified into four grades: 0 = normal; + = mild; ++/+++ = moderate; > ++++ = severe. The results were compared using the Mann-Whitney test and the variance by Kruskal-Wallis test adopting a significance level of 5% (p<0.05).
Results: Curcumin reduces inflammatory activity in the first six hours after zymosan-induced arthritis when compared to saline (p<0.01). This was also observed in animals subjected to administration of prednisone (1 mg/kg) and those treated with prednisone (8 mg/kg). Curcumin was more effective than lower doses of prednisone in the first six hours after induction of the arthritis. After 12, 24 and 48 hours, curcumin does not have the same anti-inflammatory effects when compared to prednisone. After 48 hours, prednisone is more effective than curcumin in reducing the inflammatory infiltrate regardless of the dose of prednisone used.
Conclusion: Oral administration of curcumin reduces inflammation in the first six hours after experimentally zymosan-induced arthritis.