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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2002;9(5):243-50.

The protective effects of tetrahydrocurcumin on oxidative stress in cholesterol-fed rabbits.

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Division of Nutrition and Health, Graduate School of Life Studies, Sugiyama Jogakuen University, Hoshigaoka-motomachi, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, Japan.


Tetrahydrocurcumin (THC) is an antioxidative substance which is derived from curcumin by hydrogenation. Curcumin is the main component of turmeric and is responsible for the yellow color of curried foods.First, LDL derived from a normal human volunteer was incubated in the presence of an antioxidant with 10 microM CuSO(4) at 37 degrees C for 2 hours.All antioxidants tested (THC, curcumin, probucol, and alpha-tocopherol) dose-dependently (1-10 microM) inhibited the oxidative modification of LDL. Probucol was the strongest, followed by THC, alpha-tocopherol, and curcumin.Next, in order to evaluate the antioxidative activity of THC in vivo, we fed rabbits diets containing 1% cholesterol with or without 0.5% THC and examined their effects on oxidative stress and atherosclerosis. Animals were divided into two groups: the control group rabbits (n = 12) were fed a normal chow diet and the experimental group (n = 12) was fed a diet containing 0.5% THC for one week.Then, 1% cholesterol was added to the diets and the animals were allowed to feed further for either 6 (n = 4 for each group) or 12 weeks (n = 8 for each group). Although serum cholesterol levels rapidly increased after starting the high cholesterol diet, no difference was observed between the control and THC groups.TBARS formation in the absence of added copper ion was inhibited in the LDL separated from THC-treated animals compared with that from control animals.THC treatment tended to inhibit the area covered with atherosclerotic lesions compared with the control, although this was not significant (28.8 +/- 17.5% vs. 40.0 +/- 23.7%, p = 0.2). Formation of N(epsilon)-(hexanoyl) lysine, 4-hydroxynonenal and dityrosine in liver and kidney also had a tendency to be inhibited by THC treatment. Although free THC was not detected in serum and liver, THC was detected in samples treated with beta-glucuronidase and sulfatase, suggesting that THC is present as a conjugate with glucuronic acid or sulfate. In conclusion, the present results suggest that curcuminoids, particularly THC, which are contained in turmeric, may be useful as a functional food factor.

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