Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 47–55 | Cite as

The effect of curcumin on the brain-gut axis in rat model of irritable bowel syndrome: involvement of 5-HT-dependent signaling

  • Yingcong Yu
  • Shujuan Wu
  • Jianxin Li
  • Renye Wang
  • Xupei Xie
  • Xuefeng Yu
  • Jianchun Pan
  • Ying Xu
  • Liang ZhengEmail author
Research Article


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is induced by dysfunction of central nervous and peripheral intestinal systems, which affects an estimated 10–15 % population worldwide annually. Stress-related psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety are often comorbid with gastrointestinal function disorder, such as IBS. However, the mechanism of IBS still remains unknown. Curcumin is a biologically active phytochemical presents in turmeric and has pharmacological actions that benefit patients with depression and anxiety. Our study found that IBS rats showed depression- and anxiety-like behaviors associated with decreased 5-HT (serotonin), BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and pCREB (phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein) expression in the hippocampus after chronic acute combining stress (CAS). However, these decreased parameters were obviously increased in the colonic after CAS. Curcumin (40 mg/kg) reduced the immobility time of forced swimming and the number of buried marbles in behavioral tests of CAS rats. Curcumin also decreased the number of fecal output and abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scores in response to graded distention. Moreover, curcumin increased serotonin, BDNF and pCREB levels in the hippocampus, but they were decreased in the colonic of CAS rats. 5-HT1A receptor antagonist NAN-190 reversed the effects of curcumin on behaviors and the changes of intestine, pCREB and BDNF expression, which are related to IBS. These results suggested that curcumin exerts the effects on IBS through regulating neurotransmitters, BDNF and CREB signaling both in the brain and peripheral intestinal system.


Irritable bowel syndrome Brain-gut axis Depression 5-HT BDNF CREB 



The authors do not have financial or personal conflicts of interest associated with this work.

The project was sponsored by the foundation of Science Technology Department of Zhejiang Province (No. 2012C33118) and Natural Science and Technology Foundation of Zhejiang Province (No. Y2110896).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yingcong Yu
    • 1
  • Shujuan Wu
    • 2
  • Jianxin Li
    • 1
  • Renye Wang
    • 3
  • Xupei Xie
    • 2
  • Xuefeng Yu
    • 2
  • Jianchun Pan
    • 2
  • Ying Xu
    • 4
  • Liang Zheng
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of GastroenterologyWenzhou No.3 Clinical Institute of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou people’s hospitalWenzhouChina
  2. 2.Brain Institute, School of PharmacyWenzhou Medical UniversityWenzhouChina
  3. 3.Taizhou Institute for Food and Drug ControlTaizhouChina
  4. 4.Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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