Ubiquitin Proteasome System Activity is Suppressed by Curcumin following Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Human Skeletal Muscle

Thomas D. Cardaci, Steven B. Machek, Dylan T. Wilburn, Paul S. Hwang, Darryn S. Willoughby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound that is suggested to dysregulate the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). This study investigated the effects of curcumin supplementation on markers of UPS activity in response to muscle damage.
Methods: Twenty-three recreationally active male and females between the ages of 18-30 were randomized into a curcumin (CUR) or placebo (PLA) group. Both groups ingested 2 g of their respective supplement and 20 mg of piperine for 11 consecutive days. Following 8 consecutive days of supplementation, participants performed a 45-minute eccentrically-biased treadmill proto-col at 60% VO2max. Muscle biopsies and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) assessments were performed 30minutes prior and 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours following exercise. Skeletal muscle ubiquitin, MAFbx/Atrogin-1, ubiquitin specific peptidase 19 (USP19), and chymotrypsin-like prote-ase concentrations were measured using ELISA. A 3-way repeated measures ANOVA with pairwise comparisons was conducted with significance set at p0.05.
Results: Compared to baseline, DOMS for both groups was significantly increased (p<0.05) at all time points except 72 hours following exercise. No significant differences were found for USP19between groups. Ubiquitin (p¼.016) and MAFbx/Atrogin-1 (p¼.006) were significantly lower for CUR compared to PLA. Additionally, MAFbx/Atrogin-1 was significantly greater for females(p¼.013) compared to males. In males, curcumin resulted in significant reductions (p¼.049) inchymotrypsin-like protease (p¼.049).
Conclusion: While elevations in UPS activity were not observed in response to muscle damage, curcumin supplementation in humans does appear to dysregulate basal UPS activity in the presence of exercise-induced muscle damage.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Diferuloylmethane
  • muscle wasting
  • protein degradation
  • atrophy
  • proteolysis


  • Kinesiology

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