Oral curcumin may protect gut function

September 25, 2014 by Eric Peters, Virginia Commonwealth University

Oral curcumin may be a viable therapy to improve intestinal barrier function changes caused by consuming a high-fat Western diet, according to a preclinical study by Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researchers.

A Western diet packed with high-fat, high-cholesterol foods is one of the key factors contributing to the growing obesity epidemic and the rise in cases of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, and among Americans.

Curcumin, a pure chemical found in the Asian spice turmeric, has been reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but the mechanisms underlying its observed effects have not been well understood.

In a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers examined the effect of curcumin on intestinal barrier function at the molecular level and in an animal model. They report that a Western diet directly affects the intestinal barrier function and oral curcumin reduced this effect of Western diet on the intestinal barrier function.

"Our study for the first time shows that curcumin does not need to be absorbed to bring about its effects since it had profound effects on the and can effectively reduce inflammation by this mechanism … and thereby attenuate the development of diabetes and atherosclerosis," said principal investigator Shobha Ghosh, Ph.D., professor of medicine and physiology in the VCU School of Medicine.

According to Ghosh, consuming a Western diet changes the gut bacterial composition leading to an increase in harmful bacteria in the intestines. Previous studies have cited diet-induced changes on gut microbiome.

"However, our results show that a Western diet affects the intestinal barrier at several levels," Ghosh said. "It decreases the activity of a key enzyme—Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase— involved in LPS detoxification, which is the luminal component of intestinal barrier. Western diet also decreases the expression of tight junction proteins that are required to restrict the movement of molecules such as LPS across the intestinal wall."

"Collectively, these direct effects of Western diet on the intestinal wall itself results in the movement of bacteria-derived toxin (LPS) into the circulation where it contributes to the low-grade chronic inflammation," she said.

Ghosh added that once in circulation, the bacteria-derived toxin such as LPS can activate key cells involved with . If activated, those key cells infiltrate the adipose tissue and can lead to glucose intolerance, or they enter the artery wall where they form plaques, resulting in heart disease.

"If we can restrict the release of LPS from the intestine by protecting/restoring the intestinal barrier function, as we did by using curcumin, then we can reduce the development of these diseases."

In the study, the team used two approaches. The first was non-absorbable antibiotics that would decrease the to show that bacteria-derived products are responsible for low-grade inflammation and by reducing the bacteria they can reduce this to a low-grade inflammation. The second was oral curcumin, which is very mildly antibacterial but is not absorbed, and yet has very profound anti-inflammatory effects.

Ghosh's team plans to conduct pilot clinical studies to further develop curcumin as a therapy for metabolic or diet-induced diseases.

Explore further: Gut microbiota affects intestinal integrity

More information: Ghosh SS, Bie J, Wang J, Ghosh S (2014) "Oral Supplementation with Non-Absorbable Antibiotics or Curcumin Attenuates Western Diet-Induced Atherosclerosis and Glucose Intolerance in LDLR−/− Mice – Role of Intestinal Permeability and Macrophage Activation." PLoS ONE 9(9): e108577. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108577

Related Stories

Gut microbiota affects intestinal integrity

August 13, 2014
Bacteria in the gut help the body to digest food, and stimulate the immune system. A PhD project at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, examines whether modulations of the gut bacterial composition ...

Adding intestinal enzyme to diets of mice appears to prevent, treat metabolic syndrome

April 8, 2013
Feeding an intestinal enzyme to mice kept on a high-fat diet appears to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome – a group of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and fatty liver – and ...

Intestinal barrier damage in multiple sclerosis

September 4, 2014
The present study investigates whether the function of the intestines is also attacked in MS. The results, obtained from a disease model of MS in mice, shows inflammation and changes in the barrier function of the intestines ...

'Normal' bacteria vital for keeping intestinal lining intact

August 1, 2014
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found that bacteria that aid in digestion help keep the intestinal lining intact. The findings, reported online in the journal Immunity, could yield ...

Adding sugar to a high-fat Western diet could be worse than a high-fat diet alone

June 30, 2014
A high-fructose, high-fat diet can cause harmful effects to the livers of adult rats, according to new research published today [27 June] in Experimental Physiology, providing new insight into the effects of adding fructose ...

Cell stress inflames the gut: New insights into chronic bowel inflammation

June 23, 2014
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common condition in western industrialized countries. What triggers it, however, is not yet fully understood. Nutrition researchers at Technische Universität München (TUM) have now ...

Recommended for you

Folate deficiency creates hitherto unknown problems in connection with cell division

December 17, 2018
Folate deficiency creates more problems in connection with DNA replication than researchers had hitherto assumed, researchers from the University of Copenhagen show in a new study. Once a person lacks folate, the damage caused ...

Babies and toddlers at greater risk from second-hand smoke than previously thought, study finds

December 16, 2018
Infants and toddlers in low-income communities may be even more at risk from second- and third-hand smoke exposure than has been believed, according to new federally supported research.

A co-worker's rudeness can affect your sleep—and your partner's, study finds

December 14, 2018
Rudeness. Sarcastic comments. Demeaning language. Interrupting or talking over someone in a meeting. Workplace incivilities such as these are becoming increasingly common, and a new study from Portland State University and ...

A holiday gift to primary care doctors: Proof of their time crunch

December 14, 2018
The average primary care doctor needs to work six more hours a day than they already do, in order to make sure their patients get all the preventive and early-detection care they want and deserve, a new study finds.

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.