The attenuating effect of curcumin on morphine dependence in rats: the involvement of spinal microglial cells and inflammatory cytokines

Document Type: Research article


Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


Background: New evidence suggests an important role for spinal glial cells in development of opioid dependence. Curcumin, a component of the Curcuma Longa, has shown to act as a suppressor of microglial cells. The main goal of this study was to explore the attenuating effects of curcumin on morphine dependence with a focus on spinal microglial cells and inflammatory cytokines.
Methods: In order to induce morphine dependence in male Wistar rats, morphine was administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) once daily for 18 days in an increasing dose of 10, 20, and 40 mg/kg. Curcumin (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg, i.p.) was given from the days 10th to 18th. Naloxone-precipitated abstinence syndrome was used to assess behavioral symptoms of morphine dependence. Immunofluorescence staining of Iba1 and ELISA test were used to measure spinal microglial activity and inflammatory cytokines levels, respectively.
Results: The results showed that curcumin (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg) significantly decreased jumping, leaning, and diarrhea in morphine-dependent rats. In addition, the spinal concentration of TNF-α and IL-6 was reduced by curcumin (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg) significantly. Moreover, curcumin showed a potent attenuating effect on the number of Iba1 positive cells in rats which were subjected to morphine dependence.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrated that curcumin exerts a remarkable reducing effect on morphine dependence in rats. The findings showed that the therapeutic effect of curcumin on morphine dependence is mediated through the suppression of activated microglial cells and reduction of inflammatory cytokines levels in the spinal cord.


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