Curcumin May Be Effective in Treating Cystic Fibrosis

The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 7 No. 2 • April 2004

Curcumin May Be Effective in Treating Cystic Fibrosis

The curcumin literature continues to expand, with reports of this major constituent of the spice turmeric being extended to other diseases and medical conditions. In the latest such report,1 curcumin is reported to correct cystic fibrosis defects in a gene-targeted homozygous mouse model of the disease. The mice carried two copies of the human gene for the deltaF508 CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) protein. This mutation in humans is responsible for about 69% of cases, with 90% of cystic fibrosis patients carrying at lease one copy of the gene. The normal protein functions as a chloride channel on the cellular surface, whereas the mutated gene results in an improperly folded protein that is destroyed by the proteosome (cellular garbage disposal) instead of being delivered to the cell surface.

The authors report that the mice were given 45 mg of curcumin per kilogram of body weight orally daily for 3 days. This dose was chosen because, on a weight per weight basis, it is similar to doses that have been well tolerated by humans in previous studies. In the curcumin-treated mice, the deltaF508 CFTR protein was delivered to the cell surface, the functional localization, instead of being destroyed by the proteosome. Mice were also tested for other effects: for example, homozygous mice with the genetic defect are very susceptible to gastrointestinal obstruction, resulting in considerable mortality. Six of 10 untreated mice died, whereas only one mouse treated with curcumin (or the osmotic laxative Colyte) died.

The authors suggest that “. . . curcumin and curcumin derivatives represent promising new candidate compounds that may prove useful in the search for small-molecule pharmacotherapies for cystic fibrosis and for other protein-folding diseases.” (Emphasis added.)


  1. Egan et al. Curcumin, a major constituent of turmeric, corrects cystic fibrosis defects. Science 304:600-2 (2004).

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