Oxidative stress has been considered a key causing factor of liver damage induced by a variety of agents, including alcohol, drugs, viral infections, environmental pollutants and dietary components, which in turn results in progression of liver injury, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, non-alcoholic liver disease, liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. During the past 30 years and even after the major progress in the liver disease management, millions of people worldwide still suffer from an acute or chronic liver condition. Curcumin is one of the most commonly used indigenous molecules endowed by various shielding functionalities that protects the liver. The aim of the present study is to comprehensively review pharmacological effects and molecular mechanisms, as well as clinical evidence, of curcumin as a lead compound in the prevention and treatment of oxidative associated liver diseases. For this purpose, electronic databases including “Scopus,” “PubMed,” “Science Direct” and “Cochrane library” were extensively searched with the keywords “curcumin or curcuminoids” and “hepatoprotective or hepatotoxicity or liver” along with “oxidative or oxidant.” Results showed that curcumin exerts remarkable protective and therapeutic effects of oxidative associated liver diseases through various cellular and molecular mechanisms. Those mechanisms include suppressing the proinflammatory cytokines, lipid perodixation products, PI3K/Akt and hepatic stellate cells activation, as well as ameliorating cellular responses to oxidative stress such as the expression of Nrf2, SOD, CAT, GSH, GPx and GR. Taking together, curcumin itself acts as a free radical scavenger over the activity of different kinds of ROS via its phenolic, β-diketone and methoxy group. Further clinical studies are still needed in order to recognize the structure-activity relationships and molecular mechanisms of curcumin in oxidative associated liver diseases.
Keywords: curcumin; hepatotoxicity; liver diseases; oxidative stress; systematic review.