Current Research in Food Science (Jan 2022)

Anti-fatigue and anti-oxidant effects of curcumin supplementation in exhaustive swimming mice via Nrf2/Keap1 signal pathway

  • Yong Chen,
  • Jiajun Wang,
  • Ziheng Jing,
  • Jose M. Ordovas,
  • Jing Wang,
  • Lirong Shen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5
pp. 1148 – 1157


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Demands for dietary supplements with anti-fatigue effects are growing fast due to increasing societal demands. Moreover, in highly physically active individuals, there are also significant needs for supplements to improve exercise performance. The present study evaluated the potential anti-fatigue and anti-oxidant effects of curcumin in mice using exhaustive swimming test. Male C57BL/6J mice were randomized into six groups: blank control (Rest), swimming control (Con), Vitamin C (Vc), low-dose curcumin (C50), middle-dose curcumin (C100), and high-dose curcumin (C200). After a 4-week intervention, the mice in all groups except the Rest group were subject to an exhaustive swimming test. Then, mice were sacrificed to examine serum biochemical markers and fatigue-related enzymes. Moreover, the gene and protein expressions of signal transduction factors involved in the Nrf2/Keap1 signaling pathway were measured. The results indicated that curcumin significantly enhanced the exercise tolerance of mice in the exhaustive swimming test. Particularly, the swimming time of mice in the C100 group was increased by 273.5% when compared to that of mice in the Con group. The levels of blood urea nitrogen, blood ammonia, lactic acid, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase in the C100 group were decreased by 13.3%, 21.0%, 18.6%, 16.7% and 21.9%, respectively, when compared to those of mice in the Con group. Curcumin alleviated exercise-induced oxidative stress and significantly enhanced the activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase by activating the Nrf2 signaling. These findings indicated that curcumin supplementation exerted remarkable anti-oxidant and anti-fatigue effects in mice, providing additional evidence supporting the use of curcumin as functional food, especially by those engaged in sports-related activities.