Get access

Interleukin-1β–Induced Extracellular Matrix Degradation and Glycosaminoglycan Release Is Inhibited by Curcumin in an Explant Model of Cartilage Inflammation


Address for correspondence: Abigail L. Clutterbuck, B.Sc., M.Sc., Division of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, UK. Voice: +44-01159516469; fax: +44-01159516415.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative and inflammatory disease of synovial joints that is characterized by the loss of articular cartilage, for which there is increasing interest in natural remedies. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is the main polyphenol in the spice turmeric, derived from rhizomes of the plant Curcuma longa. Curcumin has potent chemopreventive properties and has been shown to inhibit nuclear factor κB-mediated inflammatory signaling in many cell types, including chondrocytes. In this study, normal articular cartilage was harvested from metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints of eight horses, euthanized for reasons other than research purposes, to establish an explant model mimicking the inflammatory events that occur in OA. Initially, cartilage explants (N= 8) were stimulated with increasing concentrations of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β to select effective doses for inducing cartilage degeneration in the explant model. Separate cartilage explants were then cotreated with IL-1β at either 10 ng/mL (n= 3) or 25 ng/mL (n= 3) and curcumin (0.1 μmol/L, 0.5 μmol/L, 1 μmol/L, 10 μmol/L, and 100 μmol/L). After 5 days, the percentage of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) release from the explants was assessed using a dimethylmethylene blue colorimetric assay. Curcumin (100 μmol/L) significantly reduced IL-1β-stimulated GAG release in the explants by an average of 20% at 10 ng/mL and 27% at 25 ng/mL back to unstimulated control levels (P < 0.001). Our results suggest that this explant model effectively simulates the proinflammatory cytokine-mediated release of articular cartilage components seen in OA. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that the inflammatory cartilage explant model is useful for studying the effects of curcumin on inflammatory pathways and gene expression in IL-1β-stimulated chondrocytes.