PloS one

Inhibition of IL-6 signaling pathway by curcumin in uterine decidual cells.

PMID 25961579


IL-6 is a multifunctional pro-inflammatory cytokine and has been implicated in many gestational disorders including preterm birth. Currently, there are no appropriate therapeutic interventions available to circumvent inflammatory-mediated gestational disorders. Therefore, the goal of this study was to identify a safe and effective pharmacological compound to counterbalance inflammatory responses in the uterus. Curcumin, a naturally-occurring polyphenolic compound, has been widely used in alternative medicine to treat inflammatory diseases. However, the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin has not been explored in uterine decidual cells, a major source of IL-6. Therefore, we examined the effect of curcumin on IL-6 expression using two types of uterine decidual cells 1) HuF cells, primary human fibroblast cells obtained from the decidua parietalis; 2) UIII cells, a rodent non-transformed decidual cell line. Curcumin treatment completely abrogated the expression of IL-1β-induced IL-6 in these cells. Curcumin also strongly inhibited the expression of gp130, a critical molecule in IL-6 signaling, whereas expression of IL-6R and sIL-6R was not affected. Curcumin also inhibited phosphorylation and nuclear localization of STAT3, a well-known downstream mediator of IL-6 signaling. Furthermore, curcumin attenuated IL-1β-induced IL-6 promoter reporter activity suggesting transcriptional regulation. To further understand whether NF-ҡB is involved in this inhibition, we examined the effect of curcumin on the expression of p50 and p65 subunits of NF-ҡB in decidual cells. Expression of IL-1β-induced p50 mRNA was repressed by curcumin while p65 mRNA was not affected. However, curcumin treatment dramatically inhibited both p50 and p65 protein levels and prevented its nuclear localization. This effect is at least partly mediated through the deactivation of IKK, since IL-1β-induced IKKα/β phosphorylation is decreased upon curcumin treatment. Our results not only revealed molecular mechanisms underlying curcumin action in uterine decidual cells but also suggest that this compound may have therapeutic potential for the prevention of inflammation-mediated preterm birth and other gestational disorders.