Topical Curcumin Nanocarriers are Neuroprotective in Eye Disease

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 23;8(1):11066. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29393-8.


Curcumin (1,7-bis-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-1,6-heptadiene-3,5dione) is a polyphenol extracted from turmeric that has long been advocated for the treatment of a variety of conditions including neurodegenerative and inflammatory disorders. Despite this promise, the clinical use of curcumin has been limited by the poor solubility and low bioavailability of this molecule. In this article, we describe a novel nanocarrier formulation comprising Pluronic-F127 stabilised D-α-Tocopherol polyethene glycol 1000 succinate nanoparticles, which were used to successfully solubilize high concentrations (4.3 mg/mL) of curcumin. Characterisation with x-ray diffraction and in vitro release assays localise curcumin to the nanocarrier interior, with each particle measuring <20 nm diameter. Curcumin-loaded nanocarriers (CN) were found to significantly protect against cobalt chloride induced hypoxia and glutamate induced toxicity in vitro, with CN treatment significantly increasing R28 cell viability. Using established glaucoma-related in vivo models of ocular hypertension (OHT) and partial optic nerve transection (pONT), topical application of CN twice-daily for three weeks significantly reduced retinal ganglion cell loss compared to controls. Collectively, these results suggest that our novel topical CN formulation has potential as an effective neuroprotective therapy in glaucoma and other eye diseases with neuronal pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Eye Diseases / drug therapy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Ocular Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Rats
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Curcumin