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Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 Feb;50(2):227-31. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2011.10.070. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Effect on pro-inflammatory and antioxidant genes and bioavailable distribution of whole turmeric vs curcumin: Similar root but different effects.

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Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery and James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40059, United States.


Curcuma longa is a perennial member of the Zingiberaceae family, and cultivated mainly in India, and Southeast Asia. The hypothesis for this study is that turmeric will have distinctive effects from curcumin due to the presence of other bioactive compounds. Thirty Eight-week old Sprague-Dawley rats were separated into three oral feeding groups. Group 1, standard rat chow, Control diet - AIN 93M, group 2 - Curcumin - 700ppm or 0.7g/kg diet, and group 3 - Turmeric - 14,000ppm or 14g/kg diet for a total of 3weeks. One group of rats were feed all three diets only and another group underwent esophagoduodenal anastomosis to evaluate the effects of bioavailability. Curcumin diet did not increase the transcription of mRNA of TNF-alpha, IL-6, iNOS, and COX-2. The average fold change in the mRNAs level was not significant. Whereas turmeric diet increases the levels of IL-6 (1.9-fold, p=0.05), iNOS (4.39-fold, p=0.02), IL-8 (3.11-fold, p=0.04), and COX-2 (2.02-fold, p=0.05), suggesting that turmeric either was more bioavailable or had more affect on pro-inflammatory genes compare to curcumin diet. We have demonstrated the molecular effects of curcumin and turmeric in the role as an anti-inflammatory therapy. However, significant bioavailable differences do occur and must be considered in further chemopreventative investigative trials the setting of reflux esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, and other upper gastrointestinal cancers.

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