Effects of Curcumin on Microglial Cells

Neurotox Res. 2019 Jul;36(1):12-26. doi: 10.1007/s12640-019-00030-0. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Microglia are innate immune system cells which reside in the central nervous system (CNS). Resting microglia regulate the homeostasis of the CNS via phagocytic activity to clear pathogens and cell debris. Sometimes, however, to protect neurons and fight invading pathogens, resting microglia transform to an activated-form, producing inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines, chemokines, iNOS/NO and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Excessive inflammation, however, leads to damaged neurons and neurodegenerative diseases (NDs), such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), Huntington's disease (HD), multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Curcumin is a phytochemical isolated from Curcuma longa. It is widely used in Asia and has many therapeutic properties, including antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-mutagenic, anti-amyloidogenic and anti-inflammatory, especially with respect to neuroinflammation and neurological disorders (NDs). Curcumin is a pleiotropic molecule that inhibits microglia transformation, inflammatory mediators and subsequent NDs. In this mini-review, we discuss the effects of curcumin on microglia and explore the underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: Curcumin; Microglia, neuroinflammation; Neurodegenerative diseases; Neuroprotection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / immunology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage*
  • Encephalitis / immunology
  • Encephalitis / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Curcumin