Curcumin, the main polyphenol contained in turmeric root (Curcuma longa), has played a significant role in medicine for centuries. The growing interest in plant-derived substances has led to increased consumption of them also in pregnancy. The pleiotropic and multi-targeting actions of curcumin have made it very attractive as a health-promoting compound. In spite of the beneficial effects observed in various chronic diseases in humans, limited and fragmentary information is currently available about curcumin's effects on pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications. It is known that immune-metabolic alterations occurring during pregnancy have consequences on both maternal and fetal tissues, leading to short- and long-term complications. The reported anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitoxicant, neuroprotective, immunomodulatory, antiapoptotic, antiangiogenic, anti-hypertensive, and antidiabetic properties of curcumin appear to be encouraging, not only for the management of pregnancy-related disorders, including gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), preeclampsia (PE), depression, preterm birth, and fetal growth disorders but also to contrast damage induced by natural and chemical toxic agents. The current review summarizes the latest data, mostly obtained from animal models and in vitro studies, on the impact of curcumin on the molecular mechanisms involved in pregnancy pathophysiology, with the aim to shed light on the possible beneficial and/or adverse effects of curcumin on pregnancy outcomes.
Keywords: adverse effects; curcumin; fetal development; postpartum depression; pregnancy; pregnancy complications; preterm birth.