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Nutrition. 2009 Feb;25(2):125-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2008.09.002. Epub 2008 Nov 22.

Curcumin and muscle wasting: a new role for an old drug?

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Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Sepsis, severe injury, and cancer are associated with loss of muscle mass. Muscle wasting in these conditions is mainly caused by increased proteolysis, at least in part regulated by nuclear factor-kappaB. Despite recent progress in the understanding of mediators and mechanisms involved in muscle wasting, effective and universally accepted treatments by which muscle atrophy can be prevented or reversed are still lacking. We review recent evidence suggesting that curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a component of the spice turmeric, may prevent loss of muscle mass during sepsis and endotoxemia and may stimulate muscle regeneration after traumatic injury. Curcumin has been part of the traditional Asian medicine for centuries, mainly because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that inhibition of nuclear factor-kappaB is one of the mechanisms by which curcumin exerts its ant-inflammatory effects. Curcumin is easily accessible, inexpensive, and non-toxic even at high doses, and may therefore offer an important treatment modality in muscle wasting and injury. It should be noted, however, that the muscle-sparing effects of curcumin are not universally accepted, and more studies are therefore needed to further test the role of curcumin in the prevention and treatment of muscle wasting.

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