Curcumin enhances human macrophage control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

Xiyuan Bai, Rebecca E. Oberley-Deegan, An Bai, Alida R. Ovrutsky, William H. Kinney, Michael Weaver, Gong Zhang, Jennifer R. Honda, Edward D. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background and objective: With the worldwide emergence of highly drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), novel agents that have direct antimycobacterial effects or that enhance host immunity are urgently needed. Curcumin is a polyphenol responsible for the bright yellow-orange colour of turmeric, a spice derived from the root of the perennial herb Curcuma longa. Curcumin is a potent inducer of apoptosis—an effector mechanism used by macrophages to kill intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Methods: An in vitro human macrophage infection model was used to determine the effects of curcumin on MTB survival. Results: We found that curcumin enhanced the clearance of MTB in differentiated THP-1 human monocytes and in primary human alveolar macrophages. We also found that curcumin was an inducer of caspase-3-dependent apoptosis and autophagy. Curcumin mediated these anti-MTB cellular functions, in part, via inhibition of nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) activation. Conclusion: Curcumin protects against MTB infection in human macrophages. The host-protective role of curcumin against MTB in macrophages needs confirmation in an animal model; if validated, the immunomodulatory anti-TB effects of curcumin would be less prone to drug resistance development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-957
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • apoptosis
  • autophagy
  • curcumin
  • nuclear-factor kappa B
  • tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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