Curcumin improves glucose tolerance via stimulation of glucagon-like peptide-1 secretion

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Mar;61(3). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201600471. Epub 2016 Dec 19.


Scope: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a type of incretin secreted from enteroendocrine L-cells. Our previous studies demonstrated that curcumin (a yellow pigment of turmeric) significantly increases the secretion of GLP-1 in enteroendocrine L cell line (GLUTag cells). However, it is not clear whether its action in vivo directly enhances GLP-1 secretion, which then leads to a reduction in blood glucose levels via the stimulation of insulin secretion. In addition, the molecular target of curcumin-induced GLP-1 secretion has not been clarified.

Methods and results: Glucose tolerance was significantly improved in rats after pre-administered curcumin (1.5 mg/kg) followed by intraperitoneal glucose injections via the stimulation of GLP-1 secretion and the induction of insulin secretion. In GLUTag cells, curcumin-induced GLP-1 secretion was associated with G protein-coupled receptor (GPR) 40/120. Furthermore, the glucose-lowering effect induced by curcumin was significantly reduced after the administration of a GPR40/120 antagonist in rats.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate the biological function of curcumin as a GLP-1 secretagogue and the possible molecular target that mediates GLP-1 secretion. Increases in the secretion of endogenous GLP-1 induced by curcumin may allow the dosages of other diabetic medicines to be reduced and aid in the prevention of diabetes.

Keywords: Curcumin; Diabetes; G protein-coupled receptor 40/120; Glucagon-like peptide-1; Glucose tolerance.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Benzoates / pharmacology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / blood
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism*
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Hypoglycemia / drug therapy
  • Hypoglycemia / metabolism
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism


  • Benzoates
  • Blood Glucose
  • FFAR4 protein, mouse
  • Ffar1 protein, mouse
  • GW1100
  • Insulin
  • Pyrimidines
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Curcumin
  • Glucose