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Targeting Inflammation-Induced Obesity And Metabolic Diseases By Curcumin And Other Nutraceuticals

Bharat B. Aggarwal

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Extensive research within the past two decades has revealed that obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, and other chronic diseases, is a proinflammatory disease. Several spices have been shown to exhibit activity against obesity through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Among them, curcumin, a yellow pigment derived from the spice turmeric (an essential component of curry powder), has been investigated most extensively as a treatment for obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. Curcumin directly interacts with adipocytes, pancreatic cells, hepatic stellate cells, macrophages, and muscle cells. There, it suppresses the proinflammatory transcription factors nuclear factor-kappa B, signal transducer and activators of transcription-3, and Wnt/β-catenin, and it activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ and Nrf2 cell-signaling pathways, thus leading to the downregulation of adipokines, including tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-6, resistin, leptin, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and the upregulation of adiponectin and other gene products. These curcumin-induced alterations reverse insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and other symptoms linked to obesity. Other structurally homologous nutraceuticals, derived from red chili, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and ginger, also exhibit effects against obesity and insulin resistance.