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Curcumin reduces urinary tract infection symptoms via interaction with toll-like receptors.

Urinary tract infections are common outpatient infections. They occur more frequently among women, and 50 to 60 percent of all women report having had at least one UTI in their lifetime. Findings from a 2017 study suggest that curcumin reduces the symptoms associated with urinary tract infections via interaction with toll-like receptors.

Toll-like receptors comprise a family of pattern recognition receptors expressed on the surfaces of immune and other cells. They are the principal inducers of innate immunity and are responsible for the activation of transcription factors that increase the expression of proinflammatory cytokines. Chronic infections of the urinary tract, which either don’t respond to treatment or keep recurring, can occur in some people.

Curcumin is a bioactive compound found in the roots of Curcuma longa, a type of tropical plant. It is responsible for the vibrant yellow color of the spice turmeric. Evidence suggests that curcumin exerts robust antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects. Curcumin also exhibits antibacterial activity, but the compound is strain-specific.

The study involved rats that had chronic urinary tract infections. Half of the rats received a curcumin injection, while the other half did not. The investigators measured the animals' white blood cell counts, bacterial counts (in the bladder and urine), markers of inflammation, and expression of toll-like receptor (TLR)2 and TLR4.

They found that white blood cell counts, bacterial counts, markers of inflammation, and expression of TLR2 and TLR4 of the rats that received the curcumin injection were considerably lower than those of the rats that didn’t receive curcumin. These findings suggest that curcumin improves the symptoms of chronic urinary tract infections and reduces inflammatory responses via dampening the expression of TLR2 and TLR4.

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