Objectives: Iron overload is now recognized as a health problem in industrialized countries, as excessive iron is highly toxic for liver and spleen. The potential use of curcumin as an iron chelator has not been clearly identified experimentally in iron overload condition. Here, we evaluate the efficacy of curcumin to alleviate iron overload-induced hepatic and splenic abnormalities and to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms. Design and Methods: Three groups of male adult rats were treated as follows: control rats, rats treated with iron in a drinking water for 2 months followed by either vehicle or curcumin treatment for 2 more months. Thereafter, we studied the effects of curcumin on iron overload-induced lipid peroxidation and anti-oxidant depletion. Results: Treatment of iron-overloaded rats with curcumin resulted in marked decreases in iron accumulation within liver and spleen. Iron-overloaded rats had significant increases in malonyldialdehyde (MDA), a marker of lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide (NO) in liver and spleen when compared to control group. The effects of iron overload on lipid peroxidation and NO levels were significantly reduced by the intervention treatment with curcumin (P<0.05). Furthermore, the endogenous anti-oxidant activities/levels in liver and spleen were also significantly decreased in chronic iron overload and administration of curcumin restored the decrease in the hepatic and splenic antioxidant activities/levels. Conclusion: Our study suggests that curcumin may represent a new horizon in managing iron overloadinduced toxicity as well as in pathological diseases characterized by hepatic iron accumulation such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, and myelodysplastic syndromes possibly via iron chelation, reduced oxidative stress derived lipid peroxidation and improving the body endogenous antioxidant defense mechanism.
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