Sugimoto K, Hanai H, Tozawa K, Aoshi T, Uchijima M, Nagata T, Koide Y.

Gastroenterology. 2002 Dec;123(6):1912-22.

PMID: 12454848



Curcumin is known to have a variety of pharmacologic effects, including antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and anti-infectious activities. The pleiotropic effects of curcumin are attributable at least in part to inhibition of transcriptional factor nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB). However, the effect of curcumin on intestinal inflammation has hitherto not been evaluated. The aim of this study was to determine whether treatment with curcumin prevents and ameliorates colonic inflammation in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease.


Mice with trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis were treated with 0.5%, 2.0%, or 5.0% curcumin in the diet, and changes in body weight together with histologic scores were evaluated. Colonic T-cell subsets were characterized, and NF-kappaB in colonic mucosa was detected by immunohistochemistry. NF-kappaB activity in the colonic mucosa was evaluated using electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Cytokine messenger RNA expression in colonic tissue was assessed by semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.


Treatment of mice with curcumin prevented and improved both wasting and histopathologic signs of TNBS-induced colonic inflammation. Consistent with these findings, CD4(+) T-cell infiltration and NF-kappaB activation in colonic mucosa were suppressed in the curcumin-treated group. Suppression of proinflammatory cytokine messenger RNA expression in colonic mucosa was also observed.


This study has shown for the first time that treatment with curcumin can prevent and improve murine experimental colitis. This finding suggests that curcumin could be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.