Curcumin mediates attenuation of pro-inflammatory interferon γ and interleukin 17 cytokine responses in psoriatic disease, strengthening its role as a dietary immunosuppressant

Nutr Res. 2020 Mar:75:95-108. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2020.01.005. Epub 2020 Feb 27.


Curcumin exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and as dietary supplement. Data from clinical trials has strengthened the notion that curcumin may exert an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive role in patients with psoriatic disease, but its mode of action has remained elusive. We hypothesized that curcumin could inhibit interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-17 production in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). To this end, we assessed the in vitro effect of curcumin on IFN-γ production by cluster differentiation (CD)4(+), CD8(+) T cells, natural killer (NK) and NKT cells and on IL-17 production by CD4(+) T cells from 34 patients with psoriatic disease (22 with psoriasis and 12 with PsA); 15 normal subjects were included as healthy controls. We also assessed the effect of curcumin on signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 activation. Curcumin significantly decreased, in a dose dependent manner, IFNγ-production by CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, and NK and NKT cells in patients with psoriatic disease and healthy controls. It also decreased IL-17 production by CD4(+) T cells (Th17). At the molecular level, curcumin increased STAT3 serine 727 phosphorylation intensity and p-STAT3(+) CD4(+) T cells in patients with PsA and psoriasis. In conclusion, curcumin in vitro inhibits pro-inflammatory IFN-γ and IL-17 production in psoriatic disease, and this may strengthen its role as a dietary immunosuppressant in patients with this disease.

Keywords: Cytokine; Diet; Immunity; Immunosuppression; Supplementation; Turmeric acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interleukin-17
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Curcumin