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Journal of Cancer Prevention

Original Article

Journal of Cancer Prevention 2018; 23(1): 18-24

Published online March 30, 2018

© Korean Society of Cancer Prevention

Comparative Effects of Curcumin and Tetrahydrocurcumin on Dextran Sulfate Sodium-induced Colitis and Inflammatory Signaling in Mice

Joon-yeop Yang1, Xiancai Zhong1, Su-Jung Kim1, Do-Hee Kim1, Hyun Soo Kim1, Jeong-Sang Lee2, Hye-Won Yum1, Jeewoo Lee1, Hye-Kyung Na3, and Young-Joon Surh1

1Tumor Microenvironment Global Core Research Center, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea, 2Department of Functional Food and Biotechnology, College of Medical Science, Jeonju University, Jeonju, Korea, 3Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, College of Knowledge-based Services Engineering, Sungshin Women’s University, Seoul, Korea

Correspondence to :
Young-Joon Surh, Tumor Microenvironment Global Core Research Center, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Korea, Tel: +82-2-880-7845, Fax: +82-2-883-2906, E-mail:, ORCID: Young-Joon Surh,

Received: February 19, 2018; Revised: March 10, 2018; Accepted: March 12, 2018

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



Curcumin, a yellow ingredient of turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn, Zingiberaceae), has long been used in traditional folk medicine in the management of inflammatory disorders. Although curcumin has been reported to inhibit experimentally-induced colitis and carcinogenesis, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unresolved.


Murine colitis was induced by dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) which mimics inflammatory bowel disease. Curcumin or tetrahydrocurcumin was given orally (0.1 or 0.25 mmol/kg body weight daily) for 7 days before and together with DSS administration (3% in tap water). Collected colon tissue was used for histologic and biochemical analyses.


Administration of curcumin significantly attenuated the severity of DSS-induced colitis and the activation of NF-κB and STAT3 as well as expression of COX-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase. In contrast to curcumin, its non-electrophilic analogue, tetrahydrocurcumin has much weaker inhibitory effects.


Intragastric administration of curcumin inhibited the experimentally induced murine colitis, which was associated with inhibition of pro-inflammatory signaling mediated by NF-κB and STAT3.

Keywords: Curcumin, Dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis, NF-κB, STAT3, Tetrahydrocurcumin

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