Curcumin affords neuroprotection and inhibits α-synuclein aggregation in lipopolysaccharide-induced Parkinson's disease model.Inflammopharmacology. 2018 Apr; 26(2):349-360.I
Parkinson's disease (PD) pathology is characterized by the abnormal accumulation and aggregation of the pre-synaptic protein α-synuclein in the dopaminergic neurons as Lewy bodies (LBs). Curcumin, which plays a neuroprotective role in various animal models of PD, was found to directly modulate the aggregation of α-synuclein in in vitro as well as in in vivo studies. While curcumin has been shown to exhibit strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, there are a number of other possible mechanisms by which curcumin may alter α-synuclein aggregation which still remains obscure. Therefore, the present study was designed to understand such concealed mechanisms behind neuroprotective effects of curcumin. An animal model of PD was established by injecting lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 5 µg/5 µl PBS) into the substantia nigra (SN) of rats which was followed by curcumin administration (40 mg/kg b.wt (i.p.)) daily for a period of 21 days. Modulatory functions of curcumin were evident from the inhibition of astrocytic activation (GFAP) by immunofluorescence and NADPH oxidase complex activation by RT-PCR. Curcumin supplementation prevented the LPS-induced upregulation in the protein activity of transcription factor NFκB, proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-1α), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) as well as the regulating molecules of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway (Bax, Bcl-2, Caspase 3 and Caspase 9) by ELISA. Curcumin also resulted in significant improvement in the glutathione system (GSH, GSSG and redox ratio) and prevented iron deposition in the dopaminergic neurons as depicted from atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and Prussian blue staining, respectively. Curcumin also prevented α-synuclein aggregates in the dopaminergic neurons as observed from gene as well as protein activity of α-synuclein using RT-PCR and IHC. Collectively, our results suggest that curcumin can be further pursued as a candidate drug in the molecules targeted therapy for PD and other related synucleopathies.