There has been a worldwide increase in allergy and asthma over the last few decades, particularly in industrially developed nations. This resulted in a renewed interest to understand the pathogenesis of allergy in recent years. The progress made in the pathogenesis of allergic disease has led to the exploration of novel alternative therapies, which include herbal medicines as well. Curcumin, present in turmeric, a frequently used spice in Asia has been shown to have anti-allergic and inflammatory potential.
We used a murine model of latex allergy to investigate the role of curcumin as an immunomodulator. BALB/c mice were exposed to latex allergens and developed latex allergy with a Th2 type of immune response. These animals were treated with curcumin and the immunological and inflammatory responses were evaluated.
Animals exposed to latex showed enhanced serum IgE, latex specific IgG1, IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, eosinophils and inflammation in the lungs. Intragastric treatment of latex-sensitized mice with curcumin demonstrated a diminished Th2 response with a concurrent reduction in lung inflammation. Eosinophilia in curcumin-treated mice was markedly reduced, co-stimulatory molecule expression (CD80, CD86, and OX40L) on antigen-presenting cells was decreased, and expression of MMP-9, OAT, and TSLP genes was also attenuated.
These results suggest that curcumin has potential therapeutic value for controlling allergic responses resulting from exposure to allergens.