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Chronic Supplementation of Curcumin Enhances the Efficacy of Antidepressants in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study

Yu, Jing-Jie MD*; Pei, Liu-Bao MD, PhD; Zhang, Yong MD*; Wen, Zi-Yu MD*; Yang, Jian-Li MD, PhD*

Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: August 2015 - Volume 35 - Issue 4 - p 406–410
doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000352
Original Contributions

Major depressive disorder is a devastating mental illness leading to a lifetime prevalence of higher than 16% on individuals. The treatment delay and inevitable adverse effects are major limitations of current depression interventions. Emerging evidence indicates that curcumin produced significant antidepressant properties in depression in both rodents and humans without adverse effects. Therefore, it is necessary to further clarify the antidepressant actions of curcumin and the underlying mechanism in depressed patients. A total of 108 male adults aged between 31 and 59 years were systematically recruited in Tianjin Anding Hospital. Subjects were administered the Chinese version of 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale that measures different scores of depressive symptoms. The subjects were asked to take 2 capsules containing either 1000 mg of curcumin or placebo soybean powder daily for 6 weeks on the basis of their current antidepressant medications. The plasma levels of interleukin 1β, tumor necrosis factor α, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and salivary cortisol were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay before and after curcumin or placebo treatment during the 6-week procedure. Chronic supplementation with curcumin produced significant antidepressant behavioral response in depressed patients by reduction of 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale scores. Furthermore, curcumin decreases inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β and tumor necrosis factor α level, increases plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels, and decreases salivary cortisol concentrations compared with placebo group. These findings indicate the potential benefits of further implications of supplementary administration of curcumin to reverse the development of depression and enhance the outcome of antidepressants treatment in major depressive disorder.

From the *Institute of Mental Health, Tianjin Anding Hospital, Tianjin; and †Department of Orthopedics, Shuangyashan Coal General Hospital, Shuangyashan, Heilongjiang Province, China.

Received September 27, 2014; accepted after revision April 29, 2015.

Reprints: Jian-Li Yang, MD, PhD, Institute of Mental Health, Tianjin Anding Hospital, 13, Liu Lin Rd, Hexi District, Tianjin 300222, China (e-mail:

Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30870895).

J.J.Y., L.B.P., and J.L.Y. were responsible for the conception and design of the work, and drafting the article and revising it critically for important intellectual content; J.J.Y., Y.Z., and Z.Y.W., acquisition and interpretation of data; and J.J.Y., L.B.P., Y.Z., Z.Y.W., and J.L.Y., final approval of the version to be published.

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