Curcumin Mitigates Immune-Induced Epithelial Barrier Dysfunction by Campylobacter jejuni

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 28;20(19):4830. doi: 10.3390/ijms20194830.


Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) is the most common cause of foodborne gastroenteritis worldwide. The bacteria induce diarrhea and inflammation by invading the intestinal epithelium. Curcumin is a natural polyphenol from turmeric rhizome of Curcuma longa, a medical plant, and is commonly used in curry powder. The aim of this study was the investigation of the protective effects of curcumin against immune-induced epithelial barrier dysfunction in C. jejuni infection. The indirect C. jejuni-induced barrier defects and its protection by curcumin were analyzed in co-cultures with HT-29/B6-GR/MR epithelial cells together with differentiated THP-1 immune cells. Electrophysiological measurements revealed a reduction in transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) in infected co-cultures. An increase in fluorescein (332 Da) permeability in co-cultures as well as in the germ-free IL-10-/- mouse model after C. jejuni infection was shown. Curcumin treatment attenuated the C. jejuni-induced increase in fluorescein permeability in both models. Moreover, apoptosis induction, tight junction redistribution, and an increased inflammatory response-represented by TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 secretion-was observed in co-cultures after infection and reversed by curcumin. In conclusion, curcumin protects against indirect C. jejuni-triggered immune-induced barrier defects and might be a therapeutic and protective agent in patients.

Keywords: Campylobacter jejuni; NFκB; TNF; apoptosis; claudin; co-culture; curcumin; cytokines; mouse colon; tight junction.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Campylobacter Infections / immunology*
  • Campylobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Campylobacter jejuni / immunology*
  • Cell Line
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mucous Membrane / drug effects*
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology*
  • Mucous Membrane / microbiology
  • Tight Junction Proteins / genetics
  • Tight Junction Proteins / metabolism
  • Tight Junctions / genetics
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cytokines
  • Tight Junction Proteins
  • Interleukin-10
  • Curcumin