The preventive effect of curcumin, a compound isolated from the rhizome of Curcuma longa, on experimental reflux esophagitis in rats was investigated in order to validate its potential therapeutic use for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Curcumin (20 mg/kg, i.d.), the antioxidative agent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) (1 ml/kg, i.p.) or the proton pump inhibitor lansoprazole (1 mg/kg, i.d.) inhibited the formation of acute acid reflux esophagitis by 52.5, 61.5 and 70.9% respectively. Curcumin alone was not effective in preventing chronic acid reflux esophagitis, but the combination of curcumin and DMSO reduced the mortality rate and the severity of the esophagitis ulcer index to the same extent (56.5%) as did the lansoprazole (53.9%). Intraduodenal administration of curcumin also markedly prevented the formation of acute mixed reflux esophagitis, together with reducing the incidence or the severity of neutrophil infiltration, when compared to a control group. In contrast, lansoprazole tended to increase the severity of all histopathological changes, when compared to either the control or the curcumin-treated group. Aminoguanidine, a specific inducible nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, had no preventive effect against both types of acute reflux esophagitis models, and increased the mortality in the chronic acid reflux esophagitis model. From these results, it is indicated that curcumin can effectively prevent acute reflux esophagitis formation. Although curcumin is less potent than lansoprazole in inhibiting acid reflux esophagitis, it is superior to lansoprazole in inhibiting mixed reflux esophagitis. The antiulcerogenic mechanisms are considered to be closely associated with its antioxidant nature and antiinflammatory property.
Keywords: Acid reflux esophagitis; Curcumin; Mixed reflux esophagitis; Preventive action.