An investigation into the neuroprotective properties of curcumin

Daniel, Sheril (2002) An investigation into the neuroprotective properties of curcumin. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




An increasing number of studies show that nutritional antioxidants such as vitamin E and polyphenols are capable of blocking neuronal death in vitro and may have therapeutic properties in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In the present study, the neuroprotective ability of one such polyphenolic antioxidant, curcumin, was investigated. Curcumin is the yellow curry spice derived from turmeric, and is widely used as a dietary component and herbal medicine in India. Most neurological disorders are postulated to have an oxidative or excitototoxic basis. Thus the effects of curcumin on oxidative stress in the rat brain were investigated. Curcumin, administered to the rat in vivo and in vitro, was able to exert protective effects on oxidative damage in the brain, induced by cyanide, a mitochondrial inhibitor. Curcumin also offered protection against quinolinic acid induced lipid peroxidation, and this protection was extended to lipid peroxidation induced by metals such as lead and cadmium in the rat brain. Experiments conducted on the pineal gland revealed an increased production of the neuroprotective hormone melatonin in presence of curcumin in vivo. The hippocampus is functionally related to vital behaviour and intellectual activities and is known to be a primary target for neuronal degeneration in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Histological studies were undertaken to assess the effects of curcumin on lead induced toxicity on the rat hippocampus, the results of which show that curcumin affords significant protection to the hippocampus of the lead treated rats. This study also sought to elucidate possible mechanisms by which curcumin exerts its neuroprotective capabilities. Curcumin was found to inhibit the action of cyanide on the mitochondrial electron transport chain, one of the most common sources of free radicals. Electrochemical, UV/VIS and Infrared spectroscopy were used to characterise interactions between curcumin and the metals lead, cadmium, iron (II) and iron (III). Curcumin was shown to directly chelate these metals with the formation and isolation of two new curcumin complexes with lead, and one complex each with cadmium and iron (III). These results suggest chelation of toxic metals as a mechanism of neuroprotection afforded by curcumin. The need for neuroprotective agents is urgent considering the rapid rise in the elderly population and the proportionate increase in neurological disorders. The findings of this study indicate that curcumin, a well-established dietary antioxidant, is capable of playing a bigger role in neuroprotection, which needs to be further explored and exploited.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Therapeutic use of turmeric, Nervous system degeneration, Prevention of nervous system degeneration
Subjects:Q Science > QD Chemistry > QD241 Organic chemistry
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Pharmacy
ID Code:2213
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:22 Nov 2011 08:22
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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