Turmeric Extract Improves Fat Loss in Cancer-Afflicted Mice

Greg Howard
4th March, 2024

Turmeric Extract Improves Fat Loss in Cancer-Afflicted Mice

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a study at Yonsei University, Java turmeric compounds helped mice with cancer retain body weight and fat
  • These compounds prevented fat-burning in white adipose tissue, which usually occurs in cancer cachexia
  • The treatment also balanced fat metabolism and energy regulation, which could improve patient quality of life
Cancer cachexia is a debilitating condition that affects a large majority of cancer patients, leading to severe weight loss, muscle atrophy, and fat depletion. This syndrome not only diminishes the quality of life for patients but is also linked to a significant number of cancer-related deaths. Researchers at Yonsei University have recently focused their attention on a potential therapy that could alleviate the adverse effects of this condition, using natural compounds derived from Curcuma xanthorrhiza, commonly known as Java turmeric[1]. Java turmeric has been traditionally used to treat various health issues, and its active compound, xanthorrhizol (XAN), has been reported to possess anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties[2]. However, its impact on cancer cachexia, particularly the wasting of adipose tissue, has not been extensively studied until now. In this new study, scientists used CT26 tumor-bearing mice as a model to simulate cancer cachexia. The mice were given two different doses of Curcuma xanthorrhiza extract (CXE) and a set dose of XAN orally every day for one week. The goal was to observe whether these treatments could counteract the loss of body weight and fat mass typically seen in cachexia. The results were promising. Both CXE and XAN significantly reduced the loss of body weight and epididymal fat mass in the cachectic mice. This suggested that these natural compounds could indeed help preserve fat tissue in the face of cancer-induced wasting. But how did they achieve this effect? It turns out that CXE and XAN interfered with the process of white adipose tissue (WAT) browning. Normally, WAT stores energy as fat, but in cachexia, it can transform into a type of tissue that burns fat to produce heat, a process known as browning[3]. CXE and XAN inhibited the expression of genes that promote this transformation, effectively putting the brakes on the fat-burning process. In addition to stopping WAT browning, CXE and XAN also downregulated genes involved in lipolysis, the breakdown of fats into free fatty acids, which is another way that cachexia depletes fat stores[3]. Furthermore, these compounds seemed to encourage the expression of genes that support adipogenesis and lipogenesis, processes that contribute to the formation and storage of new fat tissue. Maintaining metabolic balance is crucial for overall health, and this too was positively influenced by CXE and XAN. The treatments regulated the expression of adipokines, proteins secreted by fat cells that play roles in metabolism and inflammation, and also affected the activity of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a key regulator of cellular energy homeostasis. The findings from Yonsei University's study suggest that CXE and XAN could be valuable in managing cancer-induced adipose tissue atrophy by modulating lipid metabolism and preventing WAT browning. These results build upon previous research that has highlighted the importance of lipid metabolism in cancer cachexia[3] and the role of WAT browning in accelerating the syndrome's progression[4]. While the study is a significant stride forward, it's important to note that these findings are based on animal models. Further research is needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of CXE and XAN in human patients with cancer cachexia. Nevertheless, the prospect of using components of Java turmeric to combat the devastating effects of cancer cachexia is a compelling one, potentially offering a natural and therapeutic approach to improve the lives of many patients suffering from this syndrome.



Main Study

1) Curcuma xanthorrhiza extract and xanthorrhizol ameliorate cancer-induced adipose wasting in CT26-bearing mice by regulating lipid metabolism and adipose tissue browning.

Published 1st February, 2024


Related Studies

2) Xanthorrhizol, a potential anticancer agent, from Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb.


3) The burning furnace: Alteration in lipid metabolism in cancer-associated cachexia.


4) An immune-sympathetic neuron communication axis guides adipose tissue browning in cancer-associated cachexia.


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