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Biogerontology. 2011 Oct;12(5):437-44. doi: 10.1007/s10522-011-9326-7. Epub 2011 Mar 6.

Curcumin induces stress response and hormetically modulates wound healing ability of human skin fibroblasts undergoing ageing in vitro.

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Laboratory of Cellular Ageing, Department of Molecular Biology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.


Wound healing becomes impaired in several diseases and during ageing. A commonly used model for the study of wound healing is a scratched monolayer of cells in vitro, which is convenient for the analysis of the cellular and molecular changes occurring during the two phases of wound healing, namely cell migration and cell proliferation. Cell migration, which is the primary event to occur during initial wound healing, is inversely dependent on the number of focal adhesions (FA) that attach cells to the extracellular matrix. Here we report that the number of FA, measured by determining the levels of FA-proteins paxillin and talin, increase with increasing population doubling level of the serially passaged normal adult skin fibroblasts, and that this increase may account for the age-related slowing down of wound healing in vitro. We also report that curcumin, a component of the widely used spice turmeric, modulates wound healing in vitro in a biphasic dose response manner, being stimulatory at low doses (between 1 and 5 μM), and inhibitory at higher doses. Furthermore, our results show that the hormetic effects of low levels of curcumin are achieved by virtue of it being a hormetin in terms of the induction of stress response pathways, including Nrf2 and HO-1 in human cells.

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