Anti-Inflammatory Mechanisms of Curcumin and Its Metabolites in White Adipose Tissue and Cultured Adipocytes

Tariful Islam, Shane Scoggin, Xiaoxia Gong, Masoud Zabet-Moghaddam, Nishan S. Kalupahana, Naima Moustaid-Moussa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The plant-derived polyphenol curcumin alleviates the inflammatory and metabolic effects of obesity, in part, by reducing adipose tissue inflammation. We hypothesized that the benefits of curcumin supplementation on diet-induced obesity and systemic inflammation in mice occur through downregulation of white adipose tissue (WAT) inflammation. The hypothesis was tested in adipose tissue from high-fat diet-induced obese mice supplemented with or without curcumin and in 3T3-L1 adipocytes treated with or without curcumin. Male B6 mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD, 45% kcal fat) with or without 0.4% (w/w) curcumin supplementation (HFC). Metabolic changes in these mice have been previously reported. Here, we determined the serum levels of the curcumin metabolites tetrahydrocurcumin (THC) and curcumin-O-glucuronide (COG) using mass spectrometry. Moreover, we determined interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels and proteomic changes in LPS-stimulated 3T3-L1 adipocytes treated with or without curcumin by using immunoassays and mass spectrometry, respectively, to gain further insight into any altered processes. We detected both curcumin metabolites, THC and COG, in serum samples from the curcumin-fed mice. Both curcumin and its metabolites reduced LPS-induced adipocyte IL-6 secretion and mRNA levels. Proteomic analyses indicated that curcumin upregulated EIF2 and mTOR signaling pathways. Overall, curcumin exerted anti-inflammatory effects in adipocytes, in part by reducing IL-6, and these effects may be linked to the upregulation of the mTOR signaling pathway, warranting additional mechanistic studies on the effects of curcumin and its metabolites on metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • 3T3-L1 adipocytes
  • C57BL/6J (B6) mice
  • curcumin
  • curcumin-O-glucuronide
  • high-fat diet
  • inflammation
  • obesity
  • tetrahydrocurcumin
  • white adipose tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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