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Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Dec;14(12):1125-9.

Curcumin reduces burn progression in rats.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA.



Cutaneous burns are dynamic injuries with a central zone of necrosis surrounded by a zone of ischemia. Conversion of this ischemic zone to full necrosis over the days following injury is due in part to highly reactive oxygen radicals. Curcumin is a component of the Oriental spice turmeric that has been shown to have antioxidant and antiapoptotic properties. The authors hypothesized that treatment of burns with curcumin would reduce the conversion of the ischemic zone to full necrosis.


This was a randomized controlled experiment. Twenty Sprague-Dawley rats were used. Two burns were created on each animal's dorsum using a brass comb with four rectangular prongs preheated in boiling water and applied for 30 seconds, resulting in four rectangular 10 x 20-mm full-thickness burns separated by three 5 x 20-mm unburned interspaces (zone of ischemia). Animals were randomized to curcumin or vehicle by oral gavage 30 minutes before injury and at 24, 48, and 72 hours after injury. Wounds were observed at one, two, and three days after injury for visual evidence of necrosis in the unburned interspaces. Full-thickness biopsy specimens from the interspaces were evaluated with hematoxylin and eosin staining seven days after injury for evidence of necrosis. The percentage of interspaces that progressed to necrosis was compared with chi-square tests.


Forty comb burns with 120 unburned interspaces were created, evenly distributed between curcumin and vehicle alone. The percentage of interspaces that progressed to full-thickness necrosis at one, two, three, and seven days after injury in the curcumin and vehicle groups were 30% versus 63% (p = 0.003), 30% versus 70% (p < 0.001), 63% versus 95% (p = 0.02), and 63% versus 95% (p = 0.02), respectively.


Pretreatment of rats with oral curcumin followed by once-daily oral treatment for three days reduced the percentage of unburned skin interspaces that progressed to full necrosis.

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