Beta-Glucuronidase Catalyzes Deconjugation and Activation of Curcumin-Glucuronide in Bone

Andrew G. Kunihiro, Paula B. Luis, Julia A. Brickey, Jen B. Frye, H. H.Sherry Chow, Claus Schneider, Janet L. Funk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The biological basis for documented in vivo bone-protective effects of turmeric-derived curcumin is unclear since curcumin is barely detectable in serum, being rapidly conjugated to form what is thought to be an inactive glucuronide. Studies were therefore undertaken to test the postulate that antiresorptive effects of curcumin require deconjugation within bone to form the bioactive aglycone and that β-glucuronidase (GUSB), a deconjugating enzyme expressed by hematopoietic marrow cells, facilitates this site-specific transformation. Consistent with this postulate, aglycone, but not glucuronidated, curcumin inhibited RANKL-stimulated osteoclastogenesis, a key curcumin target in bone. Aglycone curcumin, expressed relative to total curcumin, was higher in bone marrow than in serum of curcumin-treated C57BL/6J mice, while remaining a minor component. Ex vivo, under conditions preventing further metabolism of the unstable aglycone, the majority of curcumin-glucuronide delivered to marrow in vivo was hydrolyzed to the aglycone, a process that was inhibited by treatment with saccharolactone, a GUSB inhibitor, or in mice having reduced (C3H/HeJ) or absent (mps/mps) GUSB activity. These findings suggest that curcumin, despite low systemic bioavailability, may be enzymatically activated (deconjugated) within GUSB-enriched bone to exert protective effects, a metabolic process that could also contribute to bone-protective effects of other highly glucuronidated dietary polyphenols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-509
Number of pages10
JournalJournal Of Natural Products
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 22 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Organic Chemistry


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