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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e49976. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049976. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Curcumin as a potent and selective inhibitor of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1: improving lipid profiles in high-fat-diet-treated rats.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou, China.



11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11β-HSD1) activates glucocorticoid locally in liver and fat tissues to aggravate metabolic syndrome. 11β-HSD1 selective inhibitor can be used to treat metabolic syndrome. Curcumin and its derivatives as selective inhibitors of 11β-HSD1 have not been reported.


Curcumin and its 12 derivatives were tested for their potencies of inhibitory effects on human and rat 11β-HSD1 with selectivity against 11β-HSD2. 200 mg/kg curcumin was gavaged to adult male Sprague-Dawley rats with high-fat-diet-induced metabolic syndrome for 2 months.


Curcumin exhibited inhibitory potency against human and rat 11β-HSD1 in intact cells with IC50 values of 2.29 and 5.79 µM, respectively, with selectivity against 11β-HSD2 (IC50, 14.56 and 11.92 µM). Curcumin was a competitive inhibitor of human and rat 11β-HSD1. Curcumin reduced serum glucose, cholesterol, triglyceride, low density lipoprotein levels in high-fat-diet-induced obese rats. Four curcumin derivatives had much higher potencies for Inhibition of 11β-HSD1. One of them is (1E,4E)-1,5-bis(thiophen-2-yl) penta-1,4-dien-3-one (compound 6), which had IC50 values of 93 and 184 nM for human and rat 11β-HSD1, respectively. Compound 6 did not inhibit human and rat kidney 11β-HSD2 at 100 µM. In conclusion, curcumin is effective for the treatment of metabolic syndrome and four novel curcumin derivatives had high potencies for inhibition of human 11β-HSD1 with selectivity against 11β-HSD2.

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