Curcumin ameliorates cognitive deficits heavy ion irradiation-induced learning and memory deficits through enhancing of Nrf2 antioxidant signaling pathways

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2014 Nov;126:181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2014.08.005. Epub 2014 Aug 23.


Oxidative stress is one of the major mechanisms implicated in carbon ion irradiation. Curcumin is a natural phenolic compound with impressive antioxidant properties. What's more, curcumin is recently proved to exert its effects partly radioprotection. In vivo, we investigated the protective effects of curcumin against (12)C(6+)radiation-induced cerebral injury. Our results showed that 4Gy heavy ion radiation-induced spatial strategy and memory decline and reduction of brain superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity levels were all consistently improved by curcumin, and the augmentation of cerebral malonaldehyde (MDA) was lowered by curcumin. Furthermore, both the cerebral cells nuclear erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) protein and three typically recognized Nrf2 downstream genes, NAD(P)H quinine oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), and γ-glutamyl cysteine synthetase (γ-GCS) were consistently up-regulated in curcumin-pretreated mice. Our study confirmed the antagonistic roles of curcumin to counteract radiation-induced cerebral injury in vivo and suggested that the potent Nrf2 activation capability might be valuable for the protective effects of curcumin against radiation. This provides a potential useful radioprotection dietary component for human populations.

Keywords: (12)C(6+) irradiation; Cerebral injuries; Curcumin; Mice; Nrf2 pathway; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heavy Ions / adverse effects*
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Maze Learning / radiation effects
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Peptide Synthases / metabolism
  • Radiation
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Antioxidants
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Membrane Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Nfe2l2 protein, mouse
  • Nrf3 protein, mouse
  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Heme Oxygenase-1
  • Hmox1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • Peptide Synthases
  • gamma-glutamylhistamine synthetase
  • Curcumin