Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder with prevalent hypertension and renal disease. To avoid side effects of immunosuppressive drugs, alternative therapies are needed. Curcumin has been used in Eastern medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This study tested whether oral curcumin administration attenuates autoimmunity and renal injury during SLE. Female NZBWF1 (model of SLE) and NZW/LacJ (control) mice were administered curcumin (500 mg kg  day , oral gavage) for 14 days in two separate groups beginning at either 26 or 32 weeks of age. Body weight and composition were monitored throughout the study. Immune activity was assessed by spleen weight, circulating dsDNA autoantibodies, and B lymphocytes. Renal injury (albumin excretion, glomerulosclerosis, blood urea nitrogen (BUN)) was measured as a hemodynamic function (glomerular filtration rate (GFR), mean arterial pressure (MAP)) in conscious mice. Body weight and composition were maintained in curcumin-treated SLE mice, but decreased in vehicle-treated SLE mice. Curcumin-treated SLE mice had lower spleen weight and renal injury (glomerulosclerosis) compared to vehicle-treated SLE mice when treatment started at 26 weeks of age. When curcumin treatment started at 32 weeks of age, renal injury (glomerulosclerosis, BUN) was reduced in SLE mice compared to vehicle-treated SLE mice. GFR was reduced, and MAP was increased in vehicle-treated SLE mice compared to controls; however, these were not improved with curcumin. No significant changes were observed in curcumin-treated control mice. These data suggest that curcumin modulates autoimmune activity and may lessen renal injury in female mice with SLE.
© 2020 The Authors. Physiological Reports published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society.