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Life Sci. 2006 Oct 19;79(21):2022-31. Epub 2006 Aug 24.

Inhibitory effect of curcumin on nitric oxide production from lipopolysaccharide-activated primary microglia.

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Pharmacology Department, National Institute of Toxicological Research, KFDA, Seoul 122-704, Republic of Korea.


Curcumin has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, and anticarcinogenic activities. However, the modulatory effect of curcumin on the functional activation of primary microglial cells, brain mononuclear phagocytes causing the neuronal damage, largely remains unknown. The current study examined whether curcumin influenced NO production in rat primary microglia and investigated its underlying signaling pathways. Curcumin decreased NO production in LPS-stimulated microglial cells in a dose-dependent manner, with an IC(50) value of 3.7 microM. It also suppressed both mRNA and protein levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), indicating that this drug may affect iNOS gene expression process. Indeed, curcumin altered biochemical patterns induced by LPS such as phosphorylation of all mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and DNA binding activities of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and activator protein (AP)-1, assessed by reporter gene assay. By analysis of inhibitory features of specific MAPK inhibitors, a series of signaling cascades including c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), p38 and NF-kappaB was found to play a critical role in curcumin-mediated NO inhibition in microglial cells. The current results suggest that curcumin is a promising agent for the prevention and treatment of both NO and microglial cell-mediated neurodegenerative disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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