Biphasic effect of curcumin on morphine tolerance: A preliminary evidence from cytokine/chemokine protein array analysis

Jui-An Lin, Jen-Han Chen, Yuan-Wen Lee, Chao-Shun Lin, Ming Hui Hsieh, Chuen-Chau Chang, Chih Shung Wong, Judy Ju Yi Chen, Geng-Chang Yeh, Feng-Yen Lin, Ta-Liang Chen

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of curcumin on morphine tolerance and the corresponding cytokine/chemokine changes. Male ICR mice were made tolerant to morphine by daily subcutaneous injection for 7 days. Intraperitoneal injections of vehicle, low-dose or high-dose curcumin were administered 15min after morphine injection, either acutely or chronically for 7 days to test the effect of curcumin on morphine-induced antinociception and development of morphine tolerance. On day 8, cumulative dose-response curves were generated and the 50% of maximal analgesic dose values were calculated and compared among groups. Corresponding set of mice were used for analyzing the cytokine responses by antibody-based cytokine protein array. Acute, high-dose curcumin enhanced morphine-induced antinociception. While morphine tolerance was attenuated by administration of low-dose curcumin following morphine injections for 7 days, it was aggravated by chronic high-dose curcumin following morphine injection, suggesting a biphasic effect of curcumin on morphine-induced tolerance. Of the 96 cytokine/chemokines analyzed by mouse cytokine protein array, 14 cytokines exhibited significant changes after the different 7-day treatments. Mechanisms for the modulatory effects of low-dose and high-dose curcumin on morphine tolerance were discussed. Even though curcumin itself is a neuroprotectant and low doses of the compound serve to attenuate morphine tolerance, high-doses of curcumin might cause neurotoxicity and aggravate morphine tolerance by inhibiting the expression of antiapoptotic cytokines and neuroprotective factors. Our results indicate that the effect of curcumin on morphine tolerance may be biphasic, and therefore curcumin should be used cautiously.

Original languageEnglish
Article number452153
JournalEvidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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