Curcumin attenuates adhesion molecules and matrix metalloproteinase expression in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.
Nutr Res. 2014 Oct ;34(10):886-93. Epub 2014 Sep 16. PMID: 25282128
Min Young Um
Curcumin, the yellow substance found in turmeric, possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammation, anticancer, and lipid-lowering properties. Because we hypothesized that curcumin could ameliorate the development of atherosclerosis, the present study focused on the effects and potential mechanisms of curcumin consumption on high-cholesterol diet-induced atherosclerosis in rabbits. During our study, New Zealand white rabbits were fed 1 of 3 experimental diets: a normal diet, a normal diet enriched with 1% cholesterol (HCD), or an HCD supplemented with 0.2% curcumin. At the end of 8 weeks, blood samples were collected to determine the levels of serum lipids, cytokines, and soluble adhesion molecule levels. Gene expression of adhesion molecules and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in aortas were measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blot. Compared with the HCD group, rabbits fed an HCD supplemented with 0.2% curcumin had significantly less aortic lesion areas and neointima thickening. Curcumin reduced the levels of total cholesterol, triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and oxidized low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in serum by 30.7%, 41.3%, 30.4%, and 66.9% (all P<.05), respectively, but did not affect high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. In addition, curcumin attenuated HCD-induced CD36 expression, circulating inflammatory cytokines, and soluble adhesive molecule levels. Curcumin reduced the mRNA and protein expression of intracellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, P-selectin, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and it inhibited HCD-induced up-regulation of MMP-1, MMP-2, and MMP-9. Our results demonstrate that curcumin exerts an antiatherosclerotic effect, which is mediated by multiple mechanisms that include lowering serum lipids and oxidized low-density lipoprotein, thus modulating the proinflammatory cytokine levels and altering adhesion molecules and MMP gene expression.