Curcumin inhibits Th1 cytokine profile in CD4+ T cells by suppressing interleukin-12 production in macrophages

B. Y. Kang, Y. J. Song, K. M. Kim, Y. K. Choe, S. Y. Hwang, T. S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


1. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) plays a central role in the immune system by driving the immune response towards T helper 1 (Th1) type responses which are characterized by high IFN-γ and low IL-4 production. In this study we investigated the effects of curcumin, a natural product of plants obtained from Curcuma longa (turmeric), on IL-12 production by mouse splenic macrophages and the subsequent ability of these cells to regulate cytokine production by CD4+ T cells. 2. Pretreatment with curcumin significantly inhibited IL-12 production by macrophages stimulated with either lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or head-killed Listeria monocytogenes (HKL). 3. Curcumin-pretreated macrophages reduced their ability to induce IFN-γ and increased the ability to induce IL-4 in Ag-primed CD4+ T cells. Addition of recombinant IL-12 to cultures of curcumin-pretreated macrophages and CD4+ T cells restored IFN-γ production in CD4+ T cells. 4. The in vivo administration of curcumin resulted in the inhibition of IL-12 production by macrophages stimulated in vitro with either LPS or HKL, leading to the inhibition of Th1 cytokine profile (decreased IFN-γ and increased IL-4 production) in CD4+ T cells. 5. These findings suggest that curcumin may inhibit Th1 cytokine profile in CD4+ T cells by suppressing IL-12 production in macrophages, and points to a possible therapeutic use of curcumin in the Th1-mediated immune diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-384
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Curcumin
  • Cytokine profile
  • Interleukin-12
  • Macrophage
  • T helper cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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