Development of a rapid, sensitive, and selective LC-MS/MS method for quantifying curcumin levels in healthy human urine: Effect of pepper on curcumin bioavailability

Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Sep 18;11(12):7732-7741. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.3691. eCollection 2023 Dec.


Curcumin (CCM), a culinary spice, is widely consumed for its health benefits for managing oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and hyperlipidemia. However, due to its extensive metabolism, the oral bioavailability of CCM is very low. In this study, we developed a rapid, sensitive, and selective assay to examine the hypothesis that piperine improves CCM bioavailability after piperine co-ingestion. We developed a selective, sensitive, and robust LC-MS/MS method to quantify CCM in human urine. The method was linear over a concentration range 0.625-40 ng/mL with LLOQ and LLOD of 0.625 ng/mL and 0.312 ng/mL, respectively. Healthy volunteers have consumed test meals of CCM as turmeric powder with and without black pepper with 1 week wash out. Urine samples were collected for 24 hours and analyzed for CCM excretion. Black pepper increased CCM half-life from 2.2 ± 0.79 h (CCM alone) to 4.5 ± 0.80 h (CCM + pepper). The CCM 24-h urinary excreted amount was higher in individuals consuming CCM + pepper (218.14 ± 94.98 μg) than those who received CCM only (49.45 ± 12.94 μg). This preliminary study indicates that piperine significantly increased CCM oral absorption, reduced systemic clearance, and improved bioavailability.

Keywords: LC–MS/MS; bioavailability; curcumin; piperine; urinary excretion.