The concept of using phytochemicals has ushered in a new revolution in pharmaceuticals. Naturally occurring polyphenols (like curcumin, morin, resveratrol, etc.) have gained importance because of their minimal side effects, low cost and abundance. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a component of turmeric isolated from the rhizome of Curcuma longa. Research for more than two decades has revealed the pleiotropic nature of the biological effects of this molecule. More than 7000 published articles have shed light on the various aspects of curcumin including its antioxidant, hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities. Apart from these well-known activities, this natural polyphenolic compound also exerts its beneficial effects by modulating different signalling molecules including transcription factors, chemokines, cytokines, tumour suppressor genes, adhesion molecules, microRNAs, etc. Oxidative stress and inflammation play a pivotal role in various diseases like diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular diseases. Curcumin, therefore, could be a therapeutic option for the treatment of these diseases, provided limitations in its oral bioavailability can be overcome. The current review provides an updated overview of the metabolism and mechanism of action of curcumin in various organ pathophysiologies. The review also discusses the potential for multifunctional therapeutic application of curcumin and its recent progress in clinical biology.
Keywords: Antioxidant; Cancer; Curcumin; Diabetes; Inflammation; Neurodegenerative disease.
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