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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Sep;293(3):E645-55. Epub 2007 May 29.

Regulation of heme oxygenase-1 expression by demethoxy curcuminoids through Nrf2 by a PI3-kinase/Akt-mediated pathway in mouse beta-cells.

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, P.O. Box 6511, Mail Stop 8106, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a component of turmeric, has been shown to have therapeutic properties. Induction of phase 2 detoxifying enzymes is a potential mechanism through which some of the actions of curcumin could proceed. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an antioxidant phase 2 enzyme, has been reported to have cytoprotective effects in pancreatic beta-cells. Curcumin on further purification yields demethoxy curcumin (DMC) and bisdemethoxy curcumin (BDMC). The objective of the present study was to determine the mechanism by which these purified curcuminoids induce HO-1 in MIN6 cells, a mouse beta-cell line. Demethoxy curcuminoids induced HO-1 promoter linked to the luciferase reporter gene more effectively than curcumin. The induction was dependent on the presence of antioxidant response element (ARE) sites containing enhancer regions (E1 and E2) in HO-1 promoter and nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-E2-related factor (Nrf2), the transcription factor that binds to ARE. Curcuminoids stimulated multiple signaling pathways that are known to induce HO-1. Inhibition of specific signaling pathways with pharmacological inhibitors and cotransfection experiments suggested the involvement of phosphotidylinositol 3-kinase and Akt. Real-time quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed significant elevation in the mRNA levels of HO-1 and two other phase 2 enzymes, the regulatory subunit of glutamyl cysteine ligase, which is needed for the synthesis of glutathione, and NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase, which detoxifies quinones. DMC and BDMC induced the expression of HO-1 and translocated Nrf2 to nucleus in beta-cells of mouse islets. Our observations suggest that demethoxy curcuminoids could be used to induce a cellular defense mechanism in beta-cells under conditions of stress as seen in diabetes.

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