The Role of Curcumin in Modulating Colonic Microbiota During Colitis and Colon Cancer Prevention.

McFadden R-MT, Larmonier CB, Shehab KW, Midura-Kiela M, Ramalingam R, Harrison CA, Besselsen DG, Chase JH, Caporaso JG, Jobin C, et al. 2015. The Role of Curcumin in Modulating Colonic Microbiota During Colitis and Colon Cancer Prevention. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 21:2483–94. doi:10.1097/MIB.0000000000000522.

BACKGROUND: Intestinal microbiota influences the progression of colitis-associated colorectal cancer. With diet being a key determinant of the gut microbial ecology, dietary interventions are an attractive avenue for the prevention of colitis-associated colorectal cancer. Curcumin is the most active constituent of the ground rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant, which has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and antiproliferative properties.

METHODS: Il10 mice on 129/SvEv background were used as a model of colitis-associated colorectal cancer. Starting at 10 weeks of age, wild-type or Il10 mice received 6 weekly intraperitoneal injections of azoxymethane (AOM) or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) and were started on either a control or a curcumin-supplemented diet. Stools were collected every 4 weeks for microbial community analysis. Mice were killed at 30 weeks of age.

RESULTS: Curcumin-supplemented diet increased survival, decreased colon weight/length ratio, and, at 0.5%, entirely eliminated tumor burden. Although colonic histology indicated improvement with curcumin, no effects of mucosal immune responses have been observed in PBS/Il10 mice and limited effects were seen in AOM/Il10 mice. In wild-type and in Il10 mice, curcumin increased bacterial richness, prevented age-related decrease in alpha diversity, increased the relative abundance of Lactobacillales, and decreased Coriobacterales order. Taxonomic profile of AOM/Il10 mice receiving curcumin was more similar to those of wild-type mice than those fed control diet.

CONCLUSIONS: In AOM/Il10 model, curcumin reduced or eliminated colonic tumor burden with limited effects on mucosal immune responses. The beneficial effect of curcumin on tumorigenesis was associated with the maintenance of a more diverse colonic microbial ecology.