Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor-Dependent and -Independent Pathways Mediate Curcumin Anti-Aging Effects

Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Mar 23;11(4):613. doi: 10.3390/antiox11040613.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor whose activity can be modulated by polyphenols, such as curcumin. AhR and curcumin have evolutionarily conserved effects on aging. Here, we investigated whether and how the AhR mediates the anti-aging effects of curcumin across species. Using a combination of in vivo, in vitro, and in silico analyses, we demonstrated that curcumin has AhR-dependent or -independent effects in a context-specific manner. We found that in Caenorhabditis elegans, AhR mediates curcumin-induced lifespan extension, most likely through a ligand-independent inhibitory mechanism related to its antioxidant activity. Curcumin also showed AhR-independent anti-aging activities, such as protection against aggregation-prone proteins and oxidative stress in C. elegans and promotion of the migratory capacity of human primary endothelial cells. These AhR-independent effects are largely mediated by the Nrf2/SKN-1 pathway.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; aryl hydrocarbon receptor; curcumin; endothelial cells; in silico; in vitro; in vivo; mice; oxidative stress.