Chippada Appa Rao
Articles written in Journal of Biosciences
Volume 33 Issue 1 March 2008 pp 63-72 Articles
Curcumin is the most active component of turmeric. It is believed that curcumin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Tetrahydrocurcumin (THC) is one of the major metabolites of curcumin, and exhibits many of the same physiological and pharmacological activities as curcumin and, in some systems, may exert greater antioxidant activity than curcumin. Using circulating erythrocytes as the cellular mode, the insulin-binding effect of THC and curcumin was investigated. Streptozotocin (STZ)–nicotinamide-induced male Wistar rats were used as the experimental models. THC (80 mg/kg body weight) was administered orally for 45 days. The effect of THC on blood glucose, plasma insulin and insulin binding to its receptor on the cell membrane of erythrocytes were studied. Mean specific binding of insulin was significantly lowered in diabetic rats with a decrease in plasma insulin. This was due to a significant decrease in mean insulin receptors. Erythrocytes from diabetic rats showed a decreased ability for insulin–receptor binding when compared with THC-treated diabetic rats. Scatchard analysis demonstrated that the decrease in insulin binding was accounted for by a decrease in insulin receptor sites per cell, with erythrocytes of diabetic rats having less insulin receptor sites per cell than THC-treated rats. High affinity (Kd1), low affinity (Kd2) and kinetic analyses revealed an increase in the average receptor affinity of erythrocytes from THC-treated rats compared with those of diabetic rats. These results suggest that acute alteration of the insulin receptor on the membranes of erythrocytes occurred in diabetic rats. Treatment with THC significantly improved specific insulin binding to the receptors, with receptor numbers and affinity binding reaching near-normal levels. Our study suggests the mechanism by which THC increases the number of total cellular insulin binding sites resulting in a significant increase in plasma insulin. The effect of THC is more prominent than that of curcumin.
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