Neuroprotective and neurorescue effects of a novel polymeric nanoparticle formulation of curcumin (NanoCurc™) in the neuronal cell culture and animal model: implications for Alzheimer's disease

J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;23(1):61-77. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-101374.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques within the brain parenchyma followed by synaptic loss and neuronal death. Deposited Aβ reacts with activated microglia to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytochemokines, which lead to severe neuroinflammation. Curcumin is a yellow polyphenol compound found in turmeric, a widely used culinary ingredient that possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and may show efficacy as a potential therapeutic agent in several neuro-inflammatory diseases including AD. However, poor aqueous solubility and sub-optimal systemic absorption from the gastrointestinal tract may represent factors contributing to its failure in clinical trials. To increase curcumin's bioavailability, a polymeric nanoparticle encapsulated curcumin (NanoCurc™) was formulated which is completely water soluble. NanoCurc™ treatment protects neuronally differentiated human SK-N-SH cells from ROS (H2O2) mediated insults. NanoCurc™ also rescues differentiated human SK-N-SH cells, which were previously insulted with H2O2. In vivo, intraperitoneal (IP) NanoCurc™ injection at a dose of 25mg/kg twice daily in athymic mice resulted in significant curcumin levels in the brain (0.32 μg/g). Biochemical study of NanoCurc™-treated athymic mice revealed decreased levels of H2O2 as well as caspase 3 and caspase 7 activities in the brain, accompanied by increased glutathione (GSH) concentrations. Increased free to oxidized glutathione (GSH:GSSH) ratio in athymic mice brain versus controls also indicated a favorable redox intracellular environment. Taken together, these results suggest that NanoCurc™ represents an optimized formulation worthy of assessing the therapeutic value of curcumin in AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Caspases
  • Glutathione
  • Curcumin