Effects of curcumin on the skeletal system in rats.
There is increasing interest in the discovery of natural compounds that could favorably affect the skeletal system. Curcumin is a constituent of turmeric, a plant which has been used for centuries as a dietary spice and a traditional Indian medicine. Curcumin has been reported to affect differentiation, activity and the lifespan of osteoblasts and osteoclasts in vitro. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of curcumin on the skeletal system of rats in vivo. Curcumin (10 mg/kg, po daily) was administered for four weeks to normal (non-ovariectomized) and bilaterally ovariectomized (estrogen-deficient) three-month-old female Wistar Cmd:(WI)WU rats. Ovariectomy was performed seven days before the start of curcumin administration. Bone mass, mineral and calcium content, macrometric and histomorphometric parameters, as well as the mechanical properties of the bone, were examined. Serum total cholesterol and estradiol levels were also determined. In rats with normal estrogen levels, curcumin decreased serum estradiol level and slightly increased cancellous bone formation, along with decreased mineralization. Estrogen deficiency induced osteoporotic changes in the skeletal system of the ovariectomized control rats. In ovariectomized rats, curcumin decreased body mass gain and serum total cholesterol level, slightly improved some bone histomorphometric parameters impaired by estrogen deficiency, but did not improve bone mineralization or mechanical properties. In conclusion, the results of the present in vivo study in rats did not support the hypothesis that curcumin, at doses that are readily achievable through dietary intake, could be useful for the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis.