Background: Curcumin has been demonstrated to have many neuroprotective properties, including improvement of cognition in humans and neurogenesis in animals, yet the mechanism of such effects remains unclear.
Methodology: We assessed behavioural performance and hippocampal cell proliferation in aged rats after 6- and 12-week curcumin-fortified diets. Curcumin enhanced non-spatial and spatial memory, as well as dentate gyrate cell proliferation as compared to control diet rats. We also investigated underlying mechanistic pathways that might link curcumin treatment to increased cognition and neurogenesis via exon array analysis of cortical and hippocampal mRNA transcription. The results revealed a transcriptional network interaction of genes involved in neurotransmission, neuronal development, signal transduction, and metabolism in response to the curcumin treatment.
Conclusions: The results suggest a neurogenesis- and cognition-enhancing potential of prolonged curcumin treatment in aged rats, which may be due to its diverse effects on genes related to growth and plasticity.