Curcumin, a yellow polyphenolic compound from the plant Curcuma ionga , is a commonly used spice and coloring agent with beneficial effects of anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of curcumin on homocysteine-induced endothelial dysfunction in a porcine coronary artery model.
Porcine coronary arteries were cut into 5-mm rings, which were incubated for 24 hours either as control rings, with homocysteine (50 micromol/L), curcumin (5 micromol/L), or a combination of curcumin (5 micromol/L) and homocysteine (50 micromol/L). Myograph tension analysis was performed in response to vessel active drugs including thromboxane A2 analog U466419 (contraction), endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation (bradykinin), and endothelium-independent vasorelaxation (sodium nitroprusside). Immunohistochemical staining was performed for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). In addition, superoxide anion production was determined by lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence.
All groups of porcine coronary artery rings showed no difference in maximal contraction after U46619 challenge. However, endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in response to 10(-5) mol/L bradykinin was 40% in the homocysteine-treated group, as compared to 73% in the control group (P = .03). Of importance, curcumin could effectively block homocysteine-induced impairment of endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation. All groups showed no difference in endothelium-independent vasorelaxation. In addition, eNOS immunoreactivity was reduced in the homocysteine group, but the combined homocysteine and curcumin group showed eNOS levels comparable to those in the control group. Furthermore, superoxide anion levels of the endothelial layer were significantly increased by 2-fold in homocysteine-treated vessels as compared to control vessels (P = .02), whereas curcumin could block the effect of homocysteine on superoxide anion production.
These data demonstrate that curcumin effectively reverses the endothelial dysfunction induced by homocysteine. In addition, curcumin significantly blocked homocysteine-induced superoxide anion production and eNOS down-regulation. This study suggests a therapeutic role for dietary curcumin in patients with homocysteinemia, thereby reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Hyperhomocysteinemia is a significant clinical problem. It is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. This study provides new information for better understanding the molecular mechanisms of homocysteine-induced vascular injury. More importantly, curcumin, a natural substance, can effectively block the detrimental effect of homocysteine on the vascular system. Thus curcumin could be used in patients with hyperhomocysteinemia, and to prevent cardiovascular diseases.