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J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Dec 21;66:1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.12.005. [Epub ahead of print]

Macrophage plasticity, polarization and function in response to curcumin, a diet-derived polyphenol, as an immunomodulatory agent.

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Cellular & Molecular Research Center, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.
Departamento de Nutrición y Bioquímica, Facultad de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá D.C., Colombia; Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad Autónoma de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Department of Hypertension, WAM University Hospital in Lodz, Medical University of Lodz, Zeromskiego 113, Lodz, Poland; Polish Mother's Memorial Hospital Research Institute (PMMHRI), Lodz, Poland.
Sabinsa Corporation, East Windsor, NJ, USA.
Biotechnology Research Center, Pharmaceutical Technology Institute, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran; Neurogenic Inflammation Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran; School of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. Electronic address:


Monocytes and macrophages are important cells of the innate immune system that have diverse functions, including defense against invading pathogens, removal of dead cells by phagocytosis, antigen presentation in the context of MHC class I and class II molecules, and production of various pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α and MCP-1. In addition, pro-inflammatory (M1) and anti-inflammatory (M2) macrophages clearly play important roles in the progression of several inflammatory diseases. Therefore, therapies that target macrophage polarization and function by either blocking their trafficking to sites of inflammation, or skewing M1 to M2 phenotype polarization may hold clinical promise in several inflammatory diseases. Dietary-derived polyphenols have potent natural anti-oxidative properties. Within this group of polyphenols, curcumin has been shown to suppress macrophage inflammatory responses. Curcumin significantly reduces co-stimulatory molecules and also inhibits MAPK activation and the translocation of NF-κB p65. Curcumin can also polarize/repolarize macrophages toward the M2 phenotype. Curcumin-treated macrophages have been shown to be highly efficient at antigen capture and endocytosis via the mannose receptor. These novel findings provide new perspectives for the understanding of the immunopharmacological role of curcumin, as well as its therapeutic potential for impacting macrophage polarization and function in the context of inflammation-related disease. However, the precise effects of curcumin on the migration, differentiation, polarization and immunostimulatory functions of macrophages remain unknown. Therefore, in this review, we summarized whether curcumin can influence macrophage polarization, surface molecule expression, cytokine and chemokine production and their underlying pathways in the prevention of inflammatory diseases.


Curcumin; Cytokine; Dietary polyphenols; Immune system; Inflammation; Macrophage

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