Skip to main content
Differential Effects of Curcumin on Vasoactive Factors in the Diabetic Rat Heart
Nutrition & Metabolism
  • Hana Farhangkhoee, University of Western Ontario
  • Zia A. Khan, University of Western Ontario
  • Shali Chen, University of Western Ontario
  • Subrata Chakrabarti, University of Western Ontario
Document Type
Publication Date

Background: Increased oxidative stress has been associated with the pathogenesis of chronic diabetic complications, including cardiomyopathy. Recent studies indicate that curcumin, a potent antioxidant, may be beneficial in preventing diabetes-induced oxidative stress and subsequent secondary complications. We have investigated the effects of curcumin on the nitric oxide (NO) pathway in cardiac tissues and cultured cells.

Methods: Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats were treated with curcumin for a period of one month. Heart tissues were then analyzed for endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) and inducible NO synthase (iNOS) mRNA expression. Oxidative protein and DNA damage were assessed by immunohistochemical analysis of nitrotyrosine and 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG). Heart tissues were further subjected to endothelin-1 (ET-1) mRNA expression. In order to further characterize the effects of curcumin, we assayed microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs). Cultured MVECs, exposed either to glucose or glucose and varying concentrations of curcumin, were assessed for alterations of NOS expression and activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and activating protein-1 (AP-1). Oxidative stress and ET-1 expression levels were also assayed.

Results: Our results indicate that one month of diabetes causes an upregulation of both eNOS and iNOS mRNA levels, and nitrotyrosine and 8-OHdG immunoreactivity in the heart. Treatment of diabetic rats with curcumin reduced eNOS and iNOS levels in association with reduced oxidative DNA and protein damage. Interestingly, curcumin further increased vasoconstrictor ET-1 in the heart. Exposure of MVECs to high glucose increased both eNOS and iNOS levels and oxidative stress. Curcumin prevented NOS alteration and oxidative stress in a dose-dependent manner which was mediated by nuclear factor-kappaB and activating protein-1. Exposure to curcumin also increased ET-1 levels in the MVECs.

Conclusion: Our studies indicate the differential effects of curcumin in vasoactive factor expression in the heart and indicate the importance of tissue microenvironment in the treatment of diabetic complications.

Published in: Nutrition & Metabolism, 2006, 3:27. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-3-27
Citation Information
Hana Farhangkhoee, Zia A. Khan, Shali Chen and Subrata Chakrabarti. "Differential Effects of Curcumin on Vasoactive Factors in the Diabetic Rat Heart" Nutrition & Metabolism Vol. 3 Iss. 27 (2006)
Available at: