Bioavailability enhancement of curcumin by complexation with phosphatidyl choline

J Pharm Sci. 2011 May;100(5):1987-95. doi: 10.1002/jps.22393. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Curcumin is a major constituent of rhizomes of Curcuma longa. Pharmacokinetic studies of curcumin reveal its poor absorption through intestine. Objective of the present study was to enhance bioavailability of curcumin by its complexation with phosphatidyl choline (PC). Complex of curcumin was prepared with PC and characterized on the basis of solubility, melting point, differential scanning calorimetry, thin layer chromatography, and infrared spectroscopic analysis. Everted intestine sac technique was used to study ex vivo drug absorption of curcumin-PC (CU-PC) complex and plain curcumin. Pharmacokinetic studies were performed in rats, and hepatoprotective activity of CU-PC complex was also compared with curcumin and CU-PC physical mixture in isolated rat hepatocytes. Analytical reports along with spectroscopic data revealed the formation of complex. The results of ex vivo study show that CU-PC complex has significantly increased absorption compared with curcumin, when given in equimolar doses. Complex showed enhanced bioavailability, improved pharmacokinetics, and increased hepatoprotective activity as compared with curcumin or CU-PC physical mixture. Enhanced bioavailability of CU-PC complex may be due to the amphiphilic nature of the complex, which greatly enhance the water and lipid solubility of the curcumin. The present study clearly indicates the superiority of complex over curcumin, in terms of better absorption, enhanced bioavailability, and improved pharmacokinetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Biological Availability
  • Curcuma / chemistry
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage*
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Phosphatidylcholines / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Solubility


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Curcumin