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Immunomodulatory and Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Curcumin for the Treatment of Allergic Asthma: Effects on Expression Levels of Pro-inflammatory Cytokines and Aquaporins

  • Hira Shahid
  • Muhammad ShahzadEmail author
  • Arham Shabbir
  • Gulpash Saghir
Original Article


Curcumin is well known for possessing anti-inflammatory properties and for its beneficial effects in the treatment of asthma. Current study investigates the immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin using mouse model of ovalbumin-induced allergic asthma. BALB/c mice were immunized with ovalbumin on day 0 and 14 to induce allergic asthma. Animals were treated with two different doses of curcumin (20 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg) and methylprednisolone from day 21 to 28. Mice were also daily challenged intranasally with ovalbumin during treatment period, and all groups were sacrificed at day 28. Histopathological examination showed amelioration of allergic asthma in treated groups as evident by the attenuation of infiltration of inflammatory cells, goblet cell hyperplasia, alveolar thickening, and edema and vascular congestion. Curcumin significantly reduced total and differential leukocyte counts in both bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and blood. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis showed significantly suppressed mRNA expression levels of IL-4 and IL-5 (pro-inflammatory cytokines), TNF-α, TGF-β (pro-fibrotic cytokines), eotaxin (chemokine), and heat shock protein 70 (marker of airway obstruction) in treated groups. Attenuation of these pro-inflammatory markers might have led to the suppression of airway inflammation. The expression levels of aquaporin-1 (AQP) and AQP-5 were found significantly elevated in experimental groups which might be responsible for reduction of pulmonary edema. In conclusion, curcumin significantly ameliorated allergic asthma. The anti-asthmatic effect might be attributed to the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and elevation of aquaporin expression levels, suggesting further studies and clinical trials to establish its candidature in the treatment of allergic asthma.


airway inflammation Curcumin longa pulmonary edema Th2 cytokines 



The authors would like to thank Department of Hematology, Department of Biochemistry, Department of Morbid Anatomy and Histopathology, Department of Immunology, and Resource Lab for providing technical support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Approvals of all the experimental protocols were taken from the Ethical Review Committee, University of Health Sciences, Lahore.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hira Shahid
    • 1
  • Muhammad Shahzad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arham Shabbir
    • 2
  • Gulpash Saghir
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of Health SciencesLahorePakistan
  2. 2.Department of PharmacyThe University of Lahore-Gujrat campusGujratPakistan

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