Curcumin and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Prevention and Treatment

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an ensemble of metabolic diseases that has reached pandemic dimensions all over the world. The multifactorial nature of the pathology makes patient management, which includes lifelong drug therapy and lifestyle modification, extremely challenging. It is well known that T2DM is a preventable disease, therefore lowering the incidence of new T2DM cases could be a key strategy to reduce the global impact of diabetes. Currently, there is growing evidence on the efficacy of the use of medicinal plants supplements for T2DM prevention and management. Among these medicinal plants, curcumin is gaining a growing interest in the scientific community. Curcumin is a bioactive molecule present in the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant, also known as turmeric. Curcumin has different pharmacological and biological effects that have been described by both in vitro and in vivo studies, and include antioxidant, cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, nephro-protective, anti-neoplastic, hepato-protective, immunomodulatory, hypoglycemic and anti-rheumatic effects. In animal models, curcumin extract delays diabetes development, improves β-cell functions, prevents β-cell death, and decreases insulin resistance. The present review focuses on pre-clinical and clinical trials on curcumin supplementation in T2DM and discusses the peculiar mechanisms by which curcumin might ameliorate diabetes management.