Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), an orange-yellow component of turmeric or curry powder, is a polyphenol natural product isolated from the rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa. For centuries, curcumin has been used in some medicinal preparation or used as a food-coloring agent. In recent years, extensive in vitro and in vivo studies suggested curcumin has anticancer, antiviral, antiarthritic, anti-amyloid, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The underlying mechanisms of these effects are diverse and appear to involve the regulation of various molecular targets, including transcription factors (such as nuclear factor-κB), growth factors (such as vascular endothelial cell growth factor), inflammatory cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 1 and interleukin 6), protein kinases (such as mammalian target of rapamycin, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and Akt) and other enzymes (such as cyclooxygenase 2 and 5 lipoxygenase). Thus, due to its efficacy and regulation of multiple targets, as well as its safety for human use, curcumin has received considerable interest as a potential therapeutic agent for the prevention and/or treatment of various malignant diseases, arthritis, allergies, Alzheimers disease, and other inflammatory illnesses. This review summarizes various in vitro and in vivo pharmacological aspects of curcumin as well as the underlying action mechanisms. The recently identified molecular targets and signaling pathways modulated by curcumin are also discussed here.
Keywords: Curcumin, molecular targets, transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, enzymes, diferuloylmethane, orange-yellow component, turmeric, polyphenol natural product, rhizome, anticancer, Alzheimer's disease, inflammatory illnesses, Ayurvedic medicine, pharmacological aspects, adhesion kinase, thioredoxin reductase, electrophile response element, preoliferator-activated receptor-gamma