Curcumin induces the tolerogenic dendritic cell that promotes differentiation of intestine-protective regulatory T cells

Yingzi Cong, Lanfang Wang, Astrid Konrad, Trenton Schoeb, Charles O. Elson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations


The gut is home to a large number of Treg, with both CD4+ CD25+ Treg and bacterial antigen-specific Tr1 cells present in normal mouse intestinal lamina propria. It has been shown recently that intestinal mucosal DC are able to induce Foxp3+ Treg through production of TGF-β plus retinoic acid (RA). However, the factors instructing DC toward this mucosal phenotype are currently unknown. Curcumin has been shown to possess a number of biologic activities including the inhibition of NF-κB signaling. We asked whether curcumin could modulate DC to be tolerogenic whose function could mimic mucosal DC. We report here that curcumin modulated BM-derived DC to express ALDH1a and IL-10. These curcumin-treated DC induced differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into Treg resembling Treg in the intestine, including both CD4+CD25+ Foxp3 + Treg and IL-10-producing Tr1 cells. Such Treg induction required IL-10, TGF-β and retinoic acid produced by curcumin-modulated DC. Cell contact as well as IL-10 and TGF-β production were involved in the function of such induced Treg. More importantly, these Treg inhibited antigen-specific T-cell activation in vitro and inhibited colitis due to antigen-specific pathogenic T cells in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3134-3146
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009



  • Colitis
  • Curcumin
  • DC
  • Foxp3
  • Treg

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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