Effects of curcumin on short-term spatial and recognition memory, adult neurogenesis and neuroinflammation in a streptozotocin-induced rat model of dementia of Alzheimer's type

Behav Brain Res. 2017 Sep 29;335:41-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.08.014. Epub 2017 Aug 8.


Curcumin is a natural polyphenol with evidence of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. Recent evidence also suggests that curcumin increases cognitive performance in animal models of dementia, and this effect would be related to its capacity to enhance adult neurogenesis. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that curcumin treatment would be able to preserve cognition by increasing neurogenesis and decreasing neuroinflammation in the model of dementia of Alzheimer's type induced by an intracerebroventricular injection of streptozotocin (ICV-STZ) in Wistar rats. The animals were injected with ICV-STZ or vehicle and curcumin treatments (25, 50 and 100mg/kg, gavage) were performed for 30days. Four weeks after surgery, STZ-lesioned animals exhibited impairments in short-term spatial memory (Object Location Test (OLT) and Y maze) and short-term recognition memory (Object Recognition Test - ORT), decreased cell proliferation and immature neurons (Ki-67- and doublecortin-positive cells, respectively) in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and dentate gyrus (DG) of hippocampus, and increased immunoreactivity for the glial markers GFAP and Iba-1 (neuroinflammation). Curcumin treatment in the doses of 50 and 100mg/kg prevented the deficits in recognition memory in the ORT, but not in spatial memory in the OLT and Y maze. Curcumin treatment exerted only slight improvements in neuroinflammation, resulting in no improvements in hippocampal and subventricular neurogenesis. These results suggest a positive effect of curcumin in object recognition memory which was not related to hippocampal neurogenesis.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis; Alzheimer’s disease; Curcumin; Neuroinflammation; Recognition memory; Spatial memory.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Dementia / drug therapy
  • Dentate Gyrus / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Neurogenesis / drug effects
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spatial Memory / drug effects*


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Curcumin