Effects of dietary curcumin or N-acetylcysteine on NF-κB activity and contractile performance in ambulatory and unloaded murine soleus

Mehran Farid, Michael B. Reid, Yi Ping Li, Eric Gerken, William J. Durham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Unloading of skeletal muscle causes atrophy and loss of contractile function. In part, this response is believed to be mediated by the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB). Both curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, inhibit activation of NF-κB by inflammatory stimuli, albeit by different mechanisms. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that dietary curcumin or NAC supplementation would inhibit unloading-induced NF-κB activity in skeletal muscle and thereby protect muscles against loss of mass and function caused by prolonged unloading. Methods: We used hindlimb suspension to unload the hindlimb muscles of adult mice. Animals had free access to drinking water or drinking water supplemented with 1% NAC and to standard laboratory diet or diet supplemented with 1% curcumin. For 11 days, half the animals in each dietary group were suspended by the tail (unloaded) and half were allowed to ambulate freely. Results: Unloading caused a 51-53% loss of soleus muscle weight and cross-sectional area relative to freely-ambulating controls. Unloading also decreased total force and force per cross-sectional area developed by soleus. Curcumin supplementation decreased NF-κB activity measured in peripheral tissues of ambulatory mice by gel shift analysis. In unloaded animals, curcumin supplementation did not inhibit NF-κB activity or blunt the loss of muscle mass in soleus. In contrast, NAC prevented the increase in NF-κB activity induced by unloading but did not prevent losses of muscle mass or function. Conclusion: In conclusion, neither dietary curcumin nor dietary NAC prevents unloading-induced skeletal muscle dysfunction and atrophy, although dietary NAC does prevent unloading induced NF-κB activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNutrition and Metabolism
StatePublished - Aug 26 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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