Curcumin: a natural substance with potential efficacy in Alzheimer’s disease
Curcumin is a component of turmeric, a spice used in many types of cooking. Epidemiological evidence suggesting that populations that eat food with a substantial amount of curcumin were at lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) led to the idea that this compound might have a neuroprotective effect. Curcumin has substantial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and is being used as a potential preventative agent or treatment for many types of cancer. There is evidence to suggest that the addition of curcumin to cultured neuronal cells decreases brain inflammation and protects against β-amyloid-induced neurotoxicity. Curcumin also protects against toxicity when β-amyloid is administered to produce animal models of AD. Curcumin decreases β-amyloid formation from amyloid precursor protein, and also inhibits aggregation of β-amyloid into pleated sheets. Studies in transgenic mice with overproduction of β-amyloid demonstrate a neuroprotective effect of curcumin as well. Cognitive function was also improved in these animal models.