Curcumin supplementation is safe and tolerated well by patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) receiving treatment with subcutaneous interferon (IFN) β-1a, according to a new study published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. However, this add-on therapy did not improve the clinical efficacy of the regimen.

The authors did not observe any statistically significant difference between the 2 treatment groups in these measures: the time to first relapse, the number of the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) progression-free patients, the time to confirmed EDSS progression, and the mean number of T1 Gd-enhancing lesions per subject per scan.

Also, they did not find any group/time interaction for regional gray matter volume, white matter fractional anisotropy, or mean diffusivity.

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The percentage of patients with new/enlarging lesions after 12 months was 5% in the IFN-curcumin group and 8.8% in the IFN-placebo group. After 24 months, these numbers increased to 20% and 17.5%, respectively.

Moreover, fewer patients (n=3) in the IFN-curcumin group presented with combined unique active (CUA) lesions after 12 months when compared to the IFN-placebo group (n=7). After 24 months, the authors observed CUA lesions in 6 and 5 patients in the IFN-curcumin and IFN-placebo groups, respectively.

“Although the study drop-out rate was too high to allow definite conclusions, our findings suggest that
curcumin might add to IFN β-1a efficacy on radiological signs of inflammation in MS, while it did not seem to
exert any neuroprotective effect as assessed by clinical and [magnetic resonance imaging] parameters,” the authors said.

The CONTAIN trial enrolled 80 patients but 33.8% of the patients stopped the study therapy. The reasons for discontinuation included noncompliance (n=5), the occurrence of adverse events (AEs, n=4), consent withdrawn (n=3), loss to follow-up (n=2), and other reasons (n=13). The discontinuation rate was similar between the 2 treatment groups.

During the study, 46 AEs were reported in the IFN-curcumin group (vs 22 in the IFN-placebo group) but the number of patients reporting AEs in each group was similar (42.1% vs 40%, respectively). One patient in the IFN-curcumin group reported a serious adverse event (SAE), whereas no SAE emerged in the IFN-placebo group.

According to the authors, “Future studies, exploiting curcumin preparation with higher brain bioavailability and larger sample sizes might clarify the role of curcumin not only on inflammation but also neuroprotection.”


Petracca M, Quarantelli M, Moccia M, et al. ProspeCtive study to evaluate efficacy, safety and tOlerability of dietary supplemeNT of Curcumin (BCM95) in subjects with Active relapsing MultIple Sclerosis treated with subcutaNeous Interferon beta 1a 44 mcg TIW (CONTAIN): a randomized, controlled trial. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2021;56:103274. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2021.103274