Curcumin, which gives turmeric its bright yellow pigment, has long been by the Chinese and Indian in food and to make traditional medicines for thousands of years.
Previous research by Anna Baghdasaryan et al had indicated that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which could delay the damage caused by progressive inflammatory conditions of the liver, including primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.
New research by Anping Chen and Youcai Tang highlights its potential in countering an increasingly common kind of fatty liver disease called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Linked to obesity and weight gain, NASH affects 3 to 4 percent of U.S. adults and can lead to a type of liver damage called liver fibrosis and possibly cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.
Leptin, a hormone that has a central role in fat metabolism, plays a critical role in the development of liver fibrosis," Dr Chen said.
High levels of leptin, commonly found in human patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes, activate hepatic stellate cells, which in turn cause an overproduction of the collagen protein, a major feature of liver fibrosis.
The researchers found that among other activities, curcumin eliminated the effects of leptin on activating hepatic stellate cells, which short-circuited the development of liver damage.
Anna Baghdasaryan, Thierry Claudel, Astrid Kosters, Judith Gumhold, Dagmar Silbert, Andrea Thüringer, Katharina Leski, Peter Fickert, Saul J Karpen, Michael Trauner. Curcumin improves sclerosing cholangitis in Mdr2-/- mice by inhibition of cholangiocyte inflammatory response and portal myofibroblast proliferation. Gut, 2010; 59: 521-530
Youcai Tang and Anping Chen. Curcumin Protects Hepatic Stellate Cells against Leptin-Induced Activation in Vitro by Accumulating Intracellular Lipids. Endocrinology 2010 151: 4168-4177CLICK HERE for our other recent posts on curcumin.