Curcumin as an Immunity Booster in Cancer Treatment

Immunity is the natural defence against disease-causing bacteria and viruses in the body. The immune system constituents play a vital role in combating the effects of cancer in the body. Its components are the lymphocytes, macrophages, mast cells, dendritic cells (DCs), and natural killer (NK) cells. The immune system can eliminate unwanted agitators while maintaining the equilibrium of the immune system. When formed within the body, most tumor cells evolve genetic and epigenetic changes that alter the functioning of the immune system while causing immune invasion ​1​. Hence, the immune system’s role that integrates immune-editing——elimination, equilibrium, and escape — is identified and modified into different therapies for suppressing the process in surgery, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. Therefore cancer immunotherapy is the new strategy with effective, successful attempts when used as personalized treatment.

Curcumin is an orange-yellow component of turmeric coming from the plant source Curcuma longa. It mainly consists of anti-inflammatory effects that have shown efficacy as a potent immunomodulatory agent aiming to modulate T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Curcumin is also responsible for downregulating the expression of various pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and chemokines through inactivation of the transcription factor NF-κB. The facts have revealed that curcumin at low doses can enhance the antibody response. It further implies that curcumin has shown beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer might partly be due to its ability to modulate the immune system. Hence, altogether the evidence shows that curcumin is an effective therapy for immune disorders.

Curcumin as immunotherapy in cancer treatment

Curcumin consists of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and several other activities that help maintain the health of diseased individuals ​2​. It can show several mechanisms and pathways to evolve its importance on biological systems while integrating its potential use as modern nontoxic chemotherapy for different cancers. Curcumin exhibits a therapeutic effect by inhibiting IκBα degradation and inactivation of NF-κB. Hence, this evolves the initiation of downstream inflammatory and immunogenic events. The inhibition of NF-κB activation by curcumin results in direct inhibition of the expression of different cytokines such as TNF, IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-12. Also, the downregulation of mRNA expression of several pro-inflammatory enzymes such as COX, LOX, MMPs, and NOS is evolved. Hence, the mechanism of curcumin generates the immunogenic response towards tumor cells. The ability of curcumin to inhibit TLRs further enhances the immunogenic response.

Curcumin shows therapeutic mechanisms involving antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties and tends to be represented as an anti-cancer agent that targets different immunological pathways associated with cancer evolution ​3​. Curcumin can interact with the immune system, thus evolving as an essential booster due to its anti-cancer properties. Experts have developed immunotherapies for eliminating the tumor cells that dominate the mechanism in any cancer type. Hence, experts use curcumin as a potent immunomodulator or booster backup.

Curcumin integrates its immunosuppressive nature and possesses low bioavailability in circulation. It tends to increase anti-tumor immunity through different modes. Therefore, the transformation in the conventional immunotherapies is considered an essential strategy due to which curcumin is capable of counter-interacting cancer development. It leads toward representing the effectiveness of curcumin as an anti-cancer agent and evolving its requirement to be useful as an adjuvant immunotherapeutic agent. This further results in the development of nano-based strategies for an adequate delivery system and increasing the bioavailability of curcumin. Also, experts utilize it as an effective immunotherapeutic modulator.


  1. 1.
    Shankaran V, Ikeda H, Bruce AT, et al. IFNγ and lymphocytes prevent primary tumour development and shape tumour immunogenicity. Nature. Published online April 26, 2001:1107-1111. doi:10.1038/35074122
  2. 2.
    Boroumand N, Samarghandian S, Hashemy SI. Immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects of curcumin. J Herbmed Pharmacol. Published online October 6, 2018:211-219. doi:10.15171/jhp.2018.33
  3. 3.
    Adiwidjaja J, McLachlan AJ, Boddy AV. Curcumin as a clinically-promising anti-cancer agent: pharmacokinetics and drug interactions. Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology. Published online August 10, 2017:953-972. doi:10.1080/17425255.2017.1360279