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Open AccessArticle

Curcumin Can Decrease Tissue Inflammation and the Severity of HSV-2 Infection in the Female Reproductive Mucosa

Department of Pathology & Molecular Medicine and McMaster Immunology Research Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide 5000, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(1), 337;
Received: 2 December 2019 / Revised: 24 December 2019 / Accepted: 31 December 2019 / Published: 4 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Curcumin in Health and Disease: New Knowledge)
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2) is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted viruses and is a known risk factor for HIV acquisition in the Female Genital Tract (FGT). Previously, we found that curcumin can block HSV-2 infection and abrogate the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines by genital epithelial cells in vitro. In this study, we investigated whether curcumin, encapsulated in nanoparticles and delivered by various in vivo routes, could minimize inflammation and prevent or reduce HSV-2 infection in the FGT. Female mice were pre-treated with curcumin nanoparticles through oral, intraperitoneal and intravaginal routes, and then exposed intravaginally to the tissue inflammation stimulant CpG-oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN). Local intravaginal delivery of curcumin nanoparticles, but not intraperitoneal or oral delivery, reduced CpG-mediated inflammatory histopathology and decreased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines Interleukin (IL)-6, Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-α) and Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1 (MCP-1) in the FGT. However, curcumin nanoparticles did not demonstrate anti-viral activity nor reduce tissue pathology when administered prior to intravaginal HSV-2 infection. In an alternative approach, intravaginal pre-treatment with crude curcumin or solid dispersion formulations of curcumin demonstrated increased survival and delayed pathology following HSV-2 infection. Our results suggest that curcumin nanoparticle delivery in the vaginal tract could reduce local tissue inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin delivered to the vaginal tract could potentially reduce the severity of HSV-2 infection and decrease the risk of HIV acquisition in the FGT of women. View Full-Text
Keywords: curcumin; herpes; HSV-2; inflammation; pathology; nanoparticles; cytokine; CpG curcumin; herpes; HSV-2; inflammation; pathology; nanoparticles; cytokine; CpG
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Vitali, D.; Bagri, P.; Wessels, J.M.; Arora, M.; Ganugula, R.; Parikh, A.; Mandur, T.; Felker, A.; Garg, S.; Kumar, M.R.; Kaushic, C. Curcumin Can Decrease Tissue Inflammation and the Severity of HSV-2 Infection in the Female Reproductive Mucosa. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 337.

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