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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 25;8(6):e67078. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067078. Print 2013.

Curcumin inhibits imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like inflammation by inhibiting IL-1beta and IL-6 production in mice.

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Department of Pharmacy, Changhai Hospital, the Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.


Curcumin, a selective phosphorylase kinase inhibitor, is a naturally occurring phytochemical present in turmeric. Curcumin has been confirmed to have anti-inflammatory properties in addition to the ability to decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in keratinocytes. The interleukin-23 (IL-23)/IL-17A cytokine axis plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Here, we report that topical use of a curcumin gel formulation strongly inhibited imiquimod (IMQ)-induced psoriasis-like inflammation, the development of which was based on the IL-23/IL-17A axis. IMQ-induced epidermal hyperplasia and inflammation in BALB/c mouse ear was significantly inhibited following curcumin treatment. Real-time PCR showed that mRNA levels of IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-22, IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α cytokines were decreased significantly by curcumin in ear skin, an effect similar to that of clobetasol. In addition, we found that curcumin may enhance the proliferation of epidermis γδ T cells but inhibit dermal γδ T cell proliferation. We inferred that curcumin was capable of impacting the IL-23/IL-17A axis by inhibiting IL-1β/IL-6 and then indirectly down-regulating IL-17A/IL-22 production. In conclusion, curcumin can relieve the IMQ-induced psoriasis-like inflammation in a mouse model, similar to the effects of clobetasol. Therefore, we have every reason to expect that curcumin will be used in the treatment of psoriasis in the future.

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