Curcumin limits the fibrogenic evolution of experimental steatohepatitis

Francesco Vizzutti, Angela Provenzano, Sara Galastri, Stefano Milani, Wanda Delogu, Erica Novo, Alessandra Caligiuri, Elena Zamara, Umberto Arena, Giacomo Laffi, Maurizio Parola, Massimo Pinzani, Fabio Marra
Laboratory Investigation; a Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology 2010, 90 (1): 104-15
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is characterized by the association of steatosis with hepatic cell injury, lobular inflammation and fibrosis. Curcumin is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic properties. The aim of this study was to test whether the administration of curcumin limits fibrogenic evolution in a murine model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Male C57BL/6 mice were divided into four groups and fed a diet deficient in methionine and choline (MCD) or the same diet supplemented with methionine and choline for as long as 10 weeks. Curcumin (25 microg per mouse) or its vehicle (DMSO) was administered intraperitoneally every other day. Fibrosis was assessed by Sirius red staining and histomorphometry. Intrahepatic gene expression was measured by quantitative PCR. Hepatic oxidative stress was evaluated by staining for 8-OH deoxyguanosine. Myofibroblastic hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) were isolated from normal human liver tissue. The increase in serum ALT caused by the MCD diet was significantly reduced by curcumin after 4 weeks. Administration of the MCD diet was associated with histological steatosis and necro-inflammation, and this latter was significantly reduced in mice receiving curcumin. Curcumin also inhibited the generation of hepatic oxidative stress. Fibrosis was evident after 8 or 10 weeks of MCD diet and was also significantly reduced by curcumin. Curcumin decreased the intrahepatic gene expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, CD11b, procollagen type I and tissue inhibitor of metalloprotease (TIMP)-1, together with protein levels of alpha-smooth muscle-actin, a marker of fibrogenic cells. In addition, curcumin reduced the generation of reactive oxygen species in cultured HSCs and inhibited the secretion of TIMP-1 both in basal conditions and after the induction of oxidative stress. In conclusion, curcumin administration effectively limits the development and progression of fibrosis in mice with experimental steatohepatitis, and reduces TIMP-1 secretion and oxidative stress in cultured stellate cells.

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