Latest News
Web Date: December 13, 2013

Nanoparticles Loaded With Curcumin Boost Memory In Alzheimer’s Animal Model

Nanomedicine: Polymer particles help turmeric compound slip into the brains of rats and promote the growth of new neurons
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Life Sciences
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Materials SCENE, Nano SCENE
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, nanomedicine, curcumin, neurogenesis, blood-brain barrier
Curcumin (bottom, keto form) is a compound found in the golden yellow spice turmeric (top).
Credit: Wikipedia/BroviPL and Ronhjones
Photograph of turmeric powder and the structure of curcumin.
Curcumin (bottom, keto form) is a compound found in the golden yellow spice turmeric (top).
Credit: Wikipedia/BroviPL and Ronhjones

A natural compound found in turmeric has shown promise as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease but delivering it to the brain has been a challenge. Now researchers have packaged this compound, curcumin, inside polymer nanoparticles to help it get into the brain (ACS Nano 2013, DOI: 10.1021/nn405077y). For the first time, they’ve shown that this encapsulated curcumin can stimulate the production of neurons and improve memory in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease.

The first clues about curcumin’s possible beneficial properties came from India, where Alzheimer’s rates are low and people consume a lot of turmeric. They use the plant not only for curries but also in traditional medicines. This epidemiological clue then led researchers to perform studies on curcumin in cells and in animals. The results have stirred up hopes of a new treatment, including evidence that the compound has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, can protect neurons from dying in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, and can disrupt the protein clots characteristic of Alzheimer’s.

But researchers also know that curcumin does a poor job crossing the body’s protective barricade around the central nervous system, the blood-brain barrier, says Rajnish Kumar Chaturvedi, a toxicologist at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research. “Only 15 or 20% of curcumin reaches the brain—the rest of it is metabolized in different organs,” he says. As a result, curcumin must be given in large doses to animals to have any effect. Unfortunately, curcumin may be toxic in high quantities. To solve the delivery problem, Chaturvedi collaborated with Kailash Chand Gupta to encapsulate the curcumin in nanoparticles made from the biodegradable, drug-releasing polymer poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid, or PLGA.

Chaturvedi and Gupta studied these loaded particles in rats treated with amyloid beta proteins to induce a model of Alzheimer’s disease, and in rat neuronal stem cells collected from the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a key role in the formation of new memories. In the cells, the nanoparticles released curcumin gradually and were not toxic at high doses. The particles also stimulated neuronal stem cells to generate new neurons. This process, neurogenesis, slows or stops in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The curcumin nanoparticles enhanced proliferation of the neuronal stem cells even at doses as low as 1 nM. The same concentration of bulk curcumin had no effect; it took 500 times more of the free compound to enhance cell growth, suggesting that the polymer encapsulation helped curcumin stimulate cell growth.

In the animal studies, Chaturvedi and Gupta monitored where their curcumin nanoparticles traveled after injection, and their effects. Rats treated with the particles had three times more curcumin in their brains than those injected with the compound alone. Post-mortem examinations of the brains from the particle-treated animals revealed evidence of dividing neuronal stem cells and other signatures of neurogenesis. Particle-dosed rats also performed significantly better than curcumin-injected animals injected in a standard memory test.

“People have wanted to see what happens to curcumin in the central nervous system for a long time,” says Mark C. Stahl, a clinical neurologist who specializes in neurodegenerative disorders at the University of California, Los Angeles. “This ability to package it so that it does get into the central nervous system is exciting.”

He points out that a treatment that replenishes neurons in the hippocampus might help with memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease but probably would not cure the disease. Alzheimer’s is complicated, and other phenomena seem to be more central to the progression of the disease—particularly the production of amyloid proteins. Stahl wants to see further research on how the encapsulated curcumin promotes neurogenesis and improves the rats’ memory.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Maureen Carlin (Tue Jan 07 03:26:42 EST 2014)
Are there any contraindications with taking curcumin with the anti cancer drug Femaran? Thank you
Rajnish Kumar Chaturvedi (Fri Jan 17 06:46:17 EST 2014)
As far as I know curcumin does not cause any contraindications when taken with anti cancer drugs. However, I would like to suggest, that one should consult the physician before taking curcumin along with an anti cancer drug.
Dr Pinrani (Mon Jan 27 06:37:04 EST 2014)
I agree with Mr. Chaturvedi.
Gloria g  (Sun Mar 02 21:08:15 EST 2014)
Can curcumin be taken with 300 mgs of gleevec for CML and namenda for Alzheimer's and if it can how much is safe and in what form?
Dr indira (Tue Apr 08 15:56:20 EDT 2014)
Very impressive. My mom has been taking laetrile to fight metastases for 3 years, she's cancer-free (lung I would suggest taking curcuma AND laetrile
Linda Hammill (Mon Apr 28 00:02:06 EDT 2014)
I understand curcumin has also been tried and somewhat successful in Downs Syndrome. As well as certain cancers. I also heard curcumin is a topomerase inhibitor? The cancer medication (topotecan) being experimented in mice with Angelman Syndrome showed improvement. However, the toxic effects and delivery to the brain has been very difficult. This is good to know,thank you!
c. jackson (Sat Dec 20 04:44:07 EST 2014)
have you heard of NOVASOL curcumin which is produced by global company called FRUTAROM
and there product goes into product called CURCUDYN made by METAGENICS in Belgium.I have read how all 3 curcumoids are absorbed into the circulation and that it can stay in the body about 12 hrs using their micelle technology.This is the best one I can find so far for good bioavailabilty.Any comments or suggestions of other (better ?)products available
JJ (Tue Dec 23 04:25:01 EST 2014)
Has there been any up[dates on this, is it commercially available ?
If not, what sort of timeframe can be expected ?
christoph moisa (Mon May 18 07:19:43 EDT 2015)
where can I buy this product .. /nano particles loaded with curcuma?

Benjamin D. U. Hur (Sat Apr 23 22:08:02 EDT 2016)
Good day. It appears to me that a key issue is how and when to develop an innovative nanonisation startegy for turmeric curcumin and its derivatives, curcuminoids, as a tool to enhance its bioavailability and cost-effectiveness. I am sure that chemical& biological engineers can develop better vaule adding self-nanoemulsifying drug delivery systems. Cheers.
Leave A Comment