COVID-19: A Case for Inhibiting NLRP3 Inflammasome, Suppression of Inflammation with Curcumin?

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2021 Jan;128(1):37-45. doi: 10.1111/bcpt.13503. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


Curcumin is the effective ingredient of turmeric, sometimes used as a painkiller in traditional medicine. It has extensive biological properties such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus developing severe pneumonitis. Inflammasome is one of the most important components of innate immunity, which exacerbates inflammation by increasing IL-1β and IL-18 production. Studies on viral infections have shown overactivity of inflammasome and thus the occurrence of destructive and systemic inflammation in patients. NLRP3 inflammasome has been shown to play a key role in the pathogenesis of viral diseases. The proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 in a wide range of cells can be combined with numerous observations of direct and indirect activation of inflammasome by other coronaviruses. Activation of the inflammasome is likely to be involved in the formation of cytokine storm. Curcumin regulates several molecules in the intracellular signal transduction pathways involved in inflammation, including IBB, NF-kBERK1,2, AP-1, TGF-β, TXNIP, STAT3, PPARγ, JAK2-STAT3, NLRP3, p38MAPK, Nrf2, Notch-1, AMPK, TLR-4 and MyD-88. Due to anti-inflammatory and anti-inflammasome properties without any special side effects, curcumin can potentially play a role in the treatment of COVID-19 infection along with other drug regimens.

Keywords: COVID-19; Curcumin; NLRP3; SARS-CoV-2; acute lung injury; acute respiratory distress syndrome; inflammasome; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • COVID-19* / immunology
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / virology
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / immunology*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein
  • Curcumin