The role of curcumin in modulating colonic microbiota during colitis and colon cancer prevention

Rita Marie T. Mcfadden, Claire B. Larmonier, Kareem W. Shehab, Monica Midura-Kiela, Rajalakshmy Ramalingam, Christy A. Harrison, David G. Besselsen, John H. Chase, J. Gregory Caporaso, Christian Jobin, Fayez K. Ghishan, Pawel R. Kiela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2483-2494
Number of pages12
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jul 25 2015


  • 16S
  • colitis-associated colon cancer
  • curcumin
  • diet
  • microbiota
  • ribosomal RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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