Curry Ingredient Curcumin May Increase Protein Levels In Immune System
The cooking spice turmeric is not only a vital ingredient in many curries, it has also been used for 2,500 years as a medicinal compound in the Ayurvedic system of medicine in India. Now, researchers have discovered that a compound found in the spice called curcumin can increase the levels of a protein known to be vital in the "innate" immune system.
Cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) is a major component in the immune system that helps our bodies fight off various viruses, bacteria or fungi.
Although earlier studies have demonstrated that vitamin D increases CAMP levels, researchers are interested in finding an alternative mechanism to influence or increase CAMP levels.
The study, conducted by researchers in the in collaboration with researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, is published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry and was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Adrian Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the Linus Pauling Institute, explained: "This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression. It's interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies."
Although, curcumin does not increase CAMP levels as significantly as vitamin D, it could have physiologic value, said Gombart. Researchers have also studied the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of cur cumin.