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.
- nuclear-factor kappa B
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine