Adaptogenic potential of curcumin in experimental chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress-induced memory deficits and alterations in functional homeostasis

J Nat Med. 2011 Jul;65(3-4):532-43. doi: 10.1007/s11418-011-0535-9. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


The present study was designed to investigate the role of curcumin in chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress-induced memory deficits and alteration of functional homeostasis in mice. Chronic stress was induced by immobilizing the animal for 2 h daily for 10 days, whereas chronic unpredictable stress was induced by employing a battery of stressors of variable magnitude and time for 10 days. Curcumin was administered to drug-treated mice prior to induction of stress. Body weight, adrenal gland weight, ulcer index and biochemical levels of glucose, creatine kinase, cholesterol, corticosterone, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and reduced glutathione (GSH) were evaluated to assess stress-induced functional changes. Memory deficits were evaluated using the elevated plus maze (EPM) model. Chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress significantly increased the levels of corticosterone, glucose and creatine kinase and decreased cholesterol levels. Moreover, chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress resulted in severe memory deficits along with adrenal hypertrophy, weight loss and gastric ulceration. Chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress also increased oxidative stress assessed in terms of increase in TBARS and decrease in GSH levels. Pretreatment with curcumin (25 and 50 mg/kg p.o.) attenuated chronic stress and chronic unpredictable stress-associated memory deficits, biochemical alterations, pathological outcomes and oxidative stress. It may be concluded that curcumin-mediated antioxidant actions and decrease in corticosterone secretion are responsible for its adaptogenic and memory restorative actions in chronic and chronic unpredictable stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / blood
  • Memory Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Cholesterol
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Glutathione
  • Curcumin
  • Corticosterone