Curcumin labels amyloid pathology in vivo, disrupts existing plaques, and partially restores distorted neurites in an Alzheimer mouse model.
J Neurochem. 2007 Aug;102(4):1095-104. Epub 2007 Apr 30. PMID: 17472706
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by senile plaques and neurodegeneration although the neurotoxic mechanisms have not been completely elucidated. It is clear that both oxidative stress and inflammation play an important role in the illness. The compound curcumin, with a broad spectrum of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrilogenic activities may represent a promising approach for preventing or treating AD. Curcumin is a small fluorescent compound that binds to amyloid deposits. In the present work we used in vivo multiphoton microscopy (MPM) to demonstrate that curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier and labels senile plaques and cerebrovascular amyloid angiopathy (CAA) in APPswe/PS1dE9 mice. Moreover, systemic treatment of mice with curcumin for 7 days clears and reduces existing plaques, as monitored with longitudinal imaging, suggesting a potent disaggregation effect. Curcumin also led to a limited, but significant reversal of structural changes in dystrophic dendrites, including abnormal curvature and dystrophy size. Together, these data suggest that curcumin reverses existing amyloid pathology and associated neurotoxicity in a mouse model of AD. This approach could lead to more effective clinical therapies for the prevention of oxidative stress, inflammation and neurotoxicity associated with AD.