Curcumin boosts immune cell power against tuberculosis

Incubating cells with turmeric compound reduced Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

Turmeric roots - curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the spice

Mycobacterium tuberculosis can replicate inside macrophages and inducing apoptosis of these cells can enhance immune response to tuberculosis (TB) infection. 

Researchers found they could trigger apoptosis by inhibiting nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) activation. The team, led by Xiyuan Bai at the University of Colorado, have now studied the effect of curcumin – a compound in turmeric and a known inhibitor of NFκB activation – on human macrophages infected with M. tuberculosis

Reporting in Respirology (online, 24 March 2016)[1]
, the researchers found that incubating cells with curcumin significantly reduced the amount of M. tuberculosis recovered four days after infection. This effect was via inhibition of NFκB, leading to apoptosis and autophagy. 

The team says curcumin could become a new immune-enhancing treatment in drug-resistant TB, but further studies are needed to explore its efficacy and safety.


[1] Bai X, Oberley-Deegan RE, Bai A et al. Curcumin enhances human macrophage control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Respirology 2016. doi: 10.1111/resp.12762

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, April 2016, Vol 8, No 4;8(4):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200933

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