Curcumin: a potential vaginal contraceptive.
Contraception. 2003 Sep;68(3):219-23. PMID: 14561543
Division of Urology (8897), University of California, San Diego, 200 West Arbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92103-8897, USA.
The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the sperm-immobilizing effects of curcumin, a plant-derived diferuloylmethane compound. Washed human healthy sperm were suspended in Ham's F10 and exposed to varying concentrations of curcumin. Sperm motility was evaluated and changes in sperm mitochondrial transmembrane potential (MTP) was quantified by flow cytometry. Incubation of normal human sperm with curcumin resulted in a dose- and time-dependent loss of sperm motility. At lower concentrations (30 g/mL), curcumin produced a significant (20%) decrease in sperm motility within 30 min without significant effects on sperm viability. An instantaneous (>50%) loss of sperm motility was observed with higher concentrations (300 g/mL) of curcumin and a total loss of sperm motility was achieved within 60 min. A significant reduction in sperm MTP was found with all doses of curcumin tested. Our results indicate that curcumin has a selective sperm-immobilizing effect, in addition to a previously studied anti-HIV property. This compound may have potential clinical applications as a novel intravaginal spermicidal agent for contraception and HIV prevention.